Yesterday, FTVLive told you the story of KTSP Reporter Mark Saxenmeyer being fired for putting a gay slur in a story on the station's website.
Saxenmeyer himself is gay.
He says wanted to do story about a gay Minneapolis couple who attended a White House Easter egg hunt but ended up handing it off to his co-worker Katherine Johnson. While she was in the process of writing the piece, Saxenmeyer added a few things to her script to make her laugh.
"They were based on a conversation she and I had prior about sensitivity issues," said Saxenmeyer, who is gay. "As a gay person, it's sometimes easier to use humor to help people feel more comfortable with gay people or just gay things. She and I were just having a conversation about questions she might ask when she did the story. It was just a casual conversation, and then we began joking about it."
All the jokes were deleted, except for one of Saxenmeyer's lines -- "big HOMO dads" -- which made it into the story that was posted on the station's website March 30.
Saxenmeyer said the piece was up for less than five minutes before the line was taken out, but by then, a reader had already questioned the inappropriate reference to the couple. This editor's note was added: "Earlier today comments were published erroneously regarding this story. KSTP does not condone the comments. Action is being taken to ensure that this does not happen again."
On Wednesday, April 3, Saxenmeyer was fired from KSTP.
"I take responsibility for it," said Saxenmeyer.
From the minute he was sacked, Saxenmeyer has said he was totally to blame. It is refreshing that he made no excuses and blamed no one else but himself. Saxenmeyer may get the award for the "most class while being canned".
But, should he really have been fired?
If you ask FTVLive (and no one did) we say no.
Newsrooms have been ripe over the years for practical jokes and defiantly some language and comments that would make a sailor blush.
As the world goes to hell in a PC hand basket, it might be time to take a step back.
What Saxenmeyer said was wrong and it was certainly a gay slur. But, you also have to look at his intent.
We really doubt a gay man was trying write a slur to hurt other gay men. He made a joke and it was in bad taste. But if everyone that made a bad tasteless joke was fired...their wouldn't be many people working in the newsroom.
Did Saxenmeyer deserve to be suspended? OK, yes we'll buy that. He did type something that had the potential to be posted (and it was) to the station's website. For that we say, give him a week off with no pay.
Last but not least, let's ask the gay couple that he made the joke about? I'm willing to bet, they would think that Saxenmeyer should lose his job over this.
I don't know much about Saxenmeyer's work...but I hear he is a solid Reporter. If that's the case and I was a News Director at one of the other station's in the market, I would hire the guy.
He didn't deserve to be out of work in the first place.
H/T Pioneer Press