An award-winning veteran of Pittsburgh news station WTAE was fired from her post after 18 years for grossly stereotyping Black people as criminals with “multiple siblings and multiple fathers” in a racist Facebook entry.
The message, which Wendy Bell posted after a shocking backyard massacre that left five dead — including a pregnant mother and her unborn child — in the Pittsburgh suburb of Wilkinsburg, described who she believed to be the suspect:
“You needn’t be a criminal profiler to draw a mental sketch of the killers who broke so many hearts two weeks ago Wednesday. … They are young black men, likely in their teens or in their early 20s,” she posted on her Facebook.
“They have multiple siblings from multiple fathers and their mothers work multiple jobs. These boys have been in the system before. They’ve grown up there. They know the police. They’ve been arrested.”
She then goes on to give praise to a young Black man who bussed tables at a restaurant she visited, saying the employee’s smile and hustle was a sign of “hope.” But Bell’s description of the young man, who she used to contrast her idea of who the shooter might be, was also laced with questionable language.
“But there is HOPE. And Joe and I caught a glimpse of it Saturday night,” she writes. “A young, African American teen hustling like nobody’s business at a restaurant we took the boys to over at the Southside Works…He wiped off the tables. Tended to the chairs. Got down on his hands and knees to pick up the scraps that had fallen to the floor. And he did all this with a rhythm and a step that gushed positivity. He moved like a dancer with a satisfied smile on his face,” Bell wrote.
Bell later apologized for her words in another Facebook post.
“I now understand that some of the words I chose were insensitive and could be viewed as racist. I regret offending anyone. I’m truly sorry.”
A statement released by Hearst Television, WTAE’s parent company, confirmed Bell’s termination:
“WTAE has ended its relationship with anchor Wendy Bell. Wendy’s recent comments on a WTAE Facebook page were inconsistent with the company’s ethics and journalistic standards.”
Bell has spoken out in the wake of her firing, telling the Associated Press the attention she’s getting is making her “sick,” adding that the story isn’t about her, but violence in African-American communities.
“It makes me sick,” she told The Associated Press when reached at her home on Wednesday. “What matters is what’s going on in America, and it is the death of black people in this country. … I live next to three war-torn communities in the city of Pittsburgh, that I love dearly. My stories, they struck a nerve. They touched people, but it’s not enough. More needs to be done. The problem needs to be addressed.”
Bell’s Facebook page has since been taken down. Police have yet to make an arrest in the March 9 shooting she referenced in her original post.
SOURCE: Post-Gazette | VIDEO SOURCE: Inform | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty