Cleveland’s Fox 8 news anchor Kristi Capel in “Jigaboo” controversy | Media Training

Cleveland’s Fox 8 news anchor Kristi Capel said this on her broadcast Sunday night:

“It’s really hard to hear her (Lady Gaga) voice with all that ‘jigaboo’ music, whatever you want to call it … ‘jigaboo'”

Here is the problem: “jigaboo” is officially defined as a racist slur. Capel’s black co-anchor didn’t look amused sitting next to her.

“Jigaboo” is certainly a word I have heard of before, but I would have been hard-pressed to define it until this controversy erupted 24 hours ago. Is Capel a certifiable racist who deserves to be fired? I don’t know her, but I doubt it.

My guess is she just used a word she thought she knew and that she thought sort of sounded right. That’s Ok with friends and family, but when you are in the public arena and every word can and will be analyzed, sliced and diced, that is a prescription for disaster.
Media Training Rule: don’t use words, especially negative, attacking words in a public setting, unless you are 100% certain of their meaning and connotations.

I would suspect that the public humiliation that this news anchor has faced will be punishment enough, but you never know. If ratings were down, if the anchor’s salary is especially high, if management was looking to bring in new talent, this is the sort of mistake that could snowball into a career-ender.

This is why PR insiders often get very nervous about politicians and CEOs having extended interviews that range in topics.
TJ Walker rehearses executives before media interviews and speaking appearances. You can reach him at Media Training Worldwide at 212.764.4955

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