Baltimore anchor Mary Bubala asked a career-ending question last week. While interviewing Loyola University Maryland professor, Karsonya “Kaye” Whitehead, the seasoned journalist posed a question about the race and gender of the past three Baltimore mayors. What followed, was a swift reprimand from social media.
“We’ve had three female, African-American mayors in a row,” Bubala started. “They were all passionate public servants. Two resigned, though. Is this a signal that a different kind of leadership is needed to move Baltimore City forward?”
Viewers were quick to point out that the question came off as biased and discriminatory. The Baltimore Association of Black Journalists (BABJ) labeled it “racist and sexist.”
Bubala took to social media to offer a “sincere apology” to viewers. “Last night, during a live interview, I asked a question that did not come out the way I intended. I am so deeply sorry and sincerely regret the words I chose,” the statement read.
Despite her efforts to course-correct, the damage proved to be too serious to overcome. By Tuesday, WJZ, Bubala’s employer put out a statement obtained by The Baltimore Sun saying in part, “Mary Bubala is no longer a WJZ-TV employee. The station apologizes to its viewers for her remarks.”
Babula’s guest also reacted to her question and news of her termination in the days following.
“The current conversations around leadership in Baltimore are challenging, emotional, and at times include layers of racism and sexism,” Whitehead wrote in a statement to The Sun following the news of Bubala’s release from the station. “There is an assumption that since three black women have served as mayor — and the city has not entirely changed for the better — then perhaps black women are not fit to lead this city. No one can ask racially biased questions in the public sphere — including in the media — without being held accountable.”
Whitehead has also gone on to say that she hopes the incident is a “teachable moment.”