Pittsburgh’s WTAE television fired anchorwoman Wendy Bell at the end of March, claiming that a tweet she posted was “racist.” Now, Bell is suing the station, insisting she was fired because she is white.
Bell took to her Facebook page after a particularly heinous ambush murder in March. One of the victims was a pregnant woman, and in her exasperated post, Bell wrote, “You needn’t be a criminal profiler to draw a mental sketch of the killers… they are young black men.”
She went on saying, “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.”
After her post caused a stir, Bell’s TV news employers accused her of being “racist” against the perpetrators of the shooting and fired her in short order, claiming her social media post was “inconsistent with the company’s ethics and journalistic standards.”
But Bell, a winner of 21 Emmy Awards for her on-air journalism, is now saying in a lawsuit that she was fired without cause, and if she had said the same things about white killers, the station would not have cared.
According to the Daily Mail, Bell’s suit maintains, “Had Ms. Bell written the same comments about white criminal suspects or had her race not have been white, Defendant would not have fired her, much less disciplined her.”
In her original social media post, Bell also expressed sentiments of “hope” in the African-American community in Pittsburgh and this, her suit says, shows that she had no “racist” intentions with her post.
“Ms. Bell’s posting of concern for the African-American community stung by mass shooting was clearly and obviously not intended to be racially offensive,” the suit says.
The mass murder, which occurred in March at a family cookout, was described as an ambush. The attack ended in the deaths of six people, including siblings Jerry Michael Shelton, 35, and Brittany Powell, 27, cousins, Tina Shelton, 37, and Shada Mahone, 26, and a pregnant Chanetta Powell, whose fetus also died from the attack.
Since her firing, Bell has said she didn’t get a “fair shake” from the station.
“It makes me sick,” Bell told the Associated Press on March 30. “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,” Bell added. “They touched people, but it’s not enough. More needs to be done. The problem needs to be addressed.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston, or email the author at email@example.com.