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A Milwaukee news anchor issued an apology after being yanked off the air following a social media comment about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Anchor Ted Perry of WITI-TV did not appear on the air for the 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts this week after he came under fire for a controversial joke he made on Facebook, wondering why 2020 left McConnell but took longtime “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek who died on November 8.
Perry was apparently suspended by the station, which is owned and operated by Fox Corp., and reportedly shut down his Twitter account and personal Facebook page which was where he posted the initial comments.
“2020 takes Alex Trebek but leaves Mitch McConnell? Just end already,” Perry wrote in the now-deleted post in an apparent reaction last Sunday to Trebek’s death at 80 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
The post was called out as tasteless as well as biased and Perry soon deleted it.
You see this? pic.twitter.com/LjSaf73Mq0
— Dan O’Donnell (@DanODonnellShow) November 9, 2020
Perry soon issued a mea culpa saying it was a personal comment and had nothing to do with his job.
“I made a statement on my personal page that was insensitive and does not reflect my journalist values and I was not speaking on behalf of my employer,” Perry wrote on Facebook where he still maintained a page connected to his work. “I deeply apologize for my inappropriate and outrageous comments and have deleted them accordingly.”
TV anchor @Fox6TedPerry has apologized for his Facebook post joking about the death of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (D-KY). Ted has taken down the post and will not being doing the TV news tonight, according to a source. pic.twitter.com/WOWda3bRqQ
— Daniel Bice (@DanielBice) November 9, 2020
It was not clear if the 56-year-old newscaster would be returning to the air in the coming week, but while his post was slammed by conservatives, Perry found a new trove of liberal fans who celebrated his jab at McConnell. The 78-year-old Kentucky lawmaker was just re-elected to his seventh term in the U.S. Senate and was also later re-elected as Senate Republican leader.
Liberals on Twitter praised Perry and demanded the Milwaukee station, where he has worked since 1993, bring him back.
He needs to be promoted, not suspended. Great question! Ted Perry https://t.co/qn52ftzTgP
— Enchanted Seashells 🌊 🌊 #BidenHarris (@EnchantedCshel) November 13, 2020
Come on, Trebek was a wonderful human being and McConnell is a treason turtle trying to destroy health care during a pandemic.
Ted Perry was fired for being a truthful journalist.
— KMH1976 (@KMH19761) November 13, 2020
Ted Perry should be on the cover of Time magazine!
— Jennifer Broadway 🇺🇲 (@jleibroadway) November 14, 2020
But many held a decidedly different view.
“He wished the Republican Senate Majority Leader was dead, in case anyone was wondering,” tweeted conservative talk show host Dan O’Donnell of WISN-AM.
Serious question, and one that speaks directly to your ability to anchor news in an unbiased way: Why should any conservative ever trust you if you seem to want the most prominent of us to die?
— Dan O’Donnell (@DanODonnellShow) November 10, 2020
Everyone should call and demand ted perry be fired
— Nancy R (@NancyRadosevich) November 9, 2020
But some thought Perry had already paid a sufficient price and should not lose his job over the post.
“Perry took down the post and apologized promptly, which is where this should end. Given his long history of service to the community, I would sincerely hope that he is back on the air Tuesday evening,” James Wigderson, editor of the conservative website Right Wisconsin, wrote.
“Republicans trying to make a big deal out of this should ask themselves, ‘Do we believe in ending ‘cancel culture’ or not?’ Because if conservatives are going to embrace “cancel culture,” anyone who has made a joke about President-Elect Joe Biden’s possible death before the end of his term should delete their Facebook account right now,” he added, noting that there is no guarantee that the local Fox affiliate would hire a conservative to replace Perry.
“Besides, do you think Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) cares? Seriously? So are you going to go out of your way to be outraged and offended on behalf of someone who really doesn’t care?” Wigderson asked.
It seems there were plenty of social media users who agreed.
TED PERRY does not deserve suspension. I don’t always agree with what he says, or believes, but he is the most personable and professional news broadcaster in Milwaukee, and has been for a long time.
— Dave Purcell (@pwpoppy) November 13, 2020
Ted Perry is a good egg. He’s done way more for Milwaukee than he’s ever taken. He let the situation get the best of him. Big deal, move on.
— 007 Customer Disservice Agent (@customer_007) November 11, 2020
@fox6now bring back Ted Perry please. I trust him.
— nickel slimmons (@slimmonshake) November 14, 2020