KSTP reporter Mark Saxenmeyer was fired from the Minneapolis ABC affiliate this week after he made an “inappropriate gay reference” that was posted on the station’s website, according to The Star Tribune. Saxenmeyer, who is gay, explains the “bizarre ironic” incident in a lengthy interview with The Star Tribune’s C.J.:
On Saturday, Saxenmeyer wanted to do the story about gay Twin Cities fathers Paul Melchert and James Zimmerman being invited to attend the Obama White House’s 2013 Easter Egg Roll with their 3-year-old twins, Emmett and Gabriel. The interview was scheduled during a time of day that Saxenmeyer was not working, so he passed the story on to colleague Katherine Johnson.
“We were having a conversation about sensitivity issues when it comes to things like that. She was asking what are the appropriate questions to ask a gay couple? It was good conversation because, as a gay man, I like to help people better understand gay people, and oftentimes you can do that through humor.
“I’m an admitted jokester. Humor defuses awkward situations. Sometimes through humor you gain a better understanding. She was in the process of writing her Web script on her computer. So I wrote a few things into the Web script to make her laugh.
“She came over, looked at [what he’d written], laughed, and I said, ‘Make sure you delete that because obviously that would not be funny out of context.’ She deleted most of it. There was one little part she missed when she closed it.”
After the inappropriate reference was discovered on KSTP.com, an editor’s note was added to the article that acknowledges “comments published erroneously” and says, “Action is being taken to ensure that this does not happen again.” Jim Romenesko has a screenshot of the article before the reference was removed.
Saxenmeyer called it a “profoundly stupid mistake,” telling the Star Tribune, “It was stupid, inappropriate, irresponsible. It is beyond comprehensible.”