The Ed Show | December 13, 2012
>>> and in the big finish tonight the national association of black journalists is standing behind a tv meteorologist who was fired for responding to racially insensitive remarks on the station's facebook page. back in october rhonda lee of ktbs in shreveport, louisiana responded to a viewer's comment about, of all things, her hair. the viewer wondered if lee had cancer and suggested she wear a wig or grow some more hair. lee's response read in part, "i'm very proud of my african- american ancestry , which includes my hair. many black women use strong straightening agents in order to achieve a more european grade of hair, and that is their choice. however, in my case i don't find it necessary. i'm very proud of who i am and the standard of beauty i display." a month later another viewer commented on facebook about a children's charity event and toy giveaway featured by the television station , ktbs. the viewer complained that too many of the event's participants were black. "am i the only one that has noticed that this year all the kids, let's say, are people of color? seems like some racism going on to me." lee responded to it that, "i'm not sure i understand your comment," she wrote. "the children are picked at random. so there goes your theory that they are selected for their color. i would like to think that it doesn't matter who the child is." in both cases lee was polite and respectful when expressing her views. she even thanked the clueless viewer who inquired about her hair. yet a short time later lee was fired. the station, ktbs, alleged lee violated the company's social media policy. the station manager says lee received a copy of a policy via e-mail back in august. the policy directs employees not to respond to viewer complaints on facebook . but lee says that she never got that e-mail. and is now without a job. ktbs issued a statement about the firing of the meteorologist. "if harsh viewer comments are posted on the station's official website, there is a specific procedure to follow. ms. rhonda lee was let go for repeatedly violating that procedure and after being warned multiple times of the consequences if her behavior continued. rhonda lee was not dismissed for her appearance or defending her appearance. she was fired for continuing to violate company procedure." joining me tonight, former ktbs meteorologist rhonda lee. rhonda , thanks for your time tonight. this is --
>> thank you, ed, for having me.
>> you bet. social media is a part of life. do you feel like you violated the company's policy?
>> no, i do not. mainly because there really is no policy. i asked upon my termination as well as as late as last week when i went back to the station to ask for my job back for a copy of the policy, and i was told that there was not one written down anywhere. so that of course begs the question, how do you violate a policy that isn't in existence? so that's why when i have seen the polts that wicy that was handed out a few days ago, i'm not really confident that that might be all that legit considering i've asked for it twice.
>> they say you repeatedly violated the company's policy. did you answer a lot of people on facebook or just these two times?
>> no, sir. it was just those two times.
>> this is highly unusual. have you had any other problems with management or anything like that that would cause them or does this just come right out of the blue?
>> no, sir. i've had no problems. i was told on the day that i was fired, i asked my boss at the time, haven't i been an exemplary employee? that's exactly what i asked. and he said, yes, you have. and then i said, am i specifically being fired for these -- for this facebook post? and he said, yes, you are. so that left no room for doubt for my reason for termination.
>> were these racist comments on facebook in your opinion?
>> i would believe that they were racist comments, yes. but at the same time i didn't find them to be terribly upsetting, which is what the alleged policy that they've sent out anyway says. i didn't find them to be hateful, all that hateful. i used it as an opportunity to educate. i was not at all disturbed by answering them at all. i looked at them mainly as simple comments that just required some sort of answer rer ver letting them sit on the facebook page for almost a week, in some cases unanswered.
>> do you feel like you were wronged here? do you deserve to have your job back? do you think this is just an unjust firing across the board?
>> i do believe that i should have my job. there's no doubt in my mind for that. i don't believe that i violated any policy whatsoever. i do believe that it's very unfortunate and i feel it's really a huge loss for the station more than anything because now they are now dealing with the consequences of it, of course, and the fact that they missed a teachable moment to include an entire community of people.
>> and what has been the community response?
>> well, it's been very supportive of me. and i am just entirely grateful for all the support worldwide, as a matter of fact. i never would have expected this to be at the state that it is. so i'm grateful for it.
>> well, i would have to assume that no other employees have ever put anything on facebook whatsoever that dealt with working at the television station . rhonda lee, keep the face. you're a great talent, and things will work out. i appreciate your time on "the ed show" tonight. thanks so much. and that is "the