Las Vegas Sun

October 18, 2019

Currently: 72° — Complete forecast

TV weatherman fired over racial comment on air

A local television weatherman was fired this weekend after making a racist remark on the air.

During a Saturday morning taped weather report broadcast at 7:55 a.m. on KTNV Channel 13, weather forecaster Rob Blair used the racial slur "coon" in place of the civil rights leader's last name when he was delivering his forecast for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, witnesses said.

Viewers called and e-mailed the station to express outrage over what the weatherman, shortly after the 8 a.m. news began, characterized on-air as unintentional.

At that time, Blair apologized for his comment, saying some people may have thought he had said "Kong" instead of "King."

He also later apologized on the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts.

The station announced Blair's firing in a statement from its general manager, Jim Prather.

"Blair stumbled while attempting to provide a forecast for Martin Luther King Junior Day and uttered a phrase that viewers found offensive," Prather wrote. "This kind of incident is not acceptable under any circumstances. I am truly sorry that this event occurred."

Jim Thomas, a spokesman for Journal Broadcast Group, the station's parent company, would not elaborate on Blair's dismissal, saying he was not at liberty to discuss the details.

Damon Hodge, an administrator for the Las Vegas Black Journalists Association, said he had received numerous e-mails and telephone calls from colleagues who were upset by Blair's comments.

"Unfortunately, these types of incidents dredge up all sorts of bad feelings about this town's troubled history with racism and do nothing to mitigate the real concerns minorities have about the perception of media insensitivity toward their communities and their issues," Hodge wrote in a statement. "I am heartened that KTNV officials took the matter seriously and meted out punishment they felt was appropriate."

Blair could not be reached for comment this morning.