Bay News 9 anchor Al Ruechel apologizes for gaffe during coverage of Goliath Davis press conference
The voice aired as local cable newschannel Bay News 9 was cutting away from its coverage of an emotional press conference by fired city official Goliath Davis. The sentence, simple and jarring: "Uh, listen....That guy is a loaded gun."
Soon after, anchor Al Ruechel appeared on air apologizing to viewers, admitting that he had inadvertently expressed an opinion in the closing minutes of Davis' press conference as his microphone in the studio remained live.
"We here at Bay News 9 would like to apologize for a comment that you might have heard on the air earlier," said Ruechel, appearing visibly shaken. "A microphone was mistakenly left on following a news conference and I inappropriately and unprofessionally expressed an opinion that was wholly my own and does not – does not reflect the opinion of Bay News 9. I sincerely apologize for this personal error and I do humbly ask for your forgiveness." The cable newschannel aired this apology again within minutes of the original broadcast.
The anchor's original comments came as the local cable newschannel hurriedly cut away from the final speaker at Davis' press conference, area activist Omali Yeshitela.
Noting Yeshitela's original name, Joe Waller, Ruechel pointed out that he served time in prison for ripping a mural down in St. Petersburg's City Hall; the anchor didn't note that the mural was a stereotypical depiction of black people that many African Americans in the city found offensive.
During Davis' press conference, the fired city administrator criticized the local news media for unfair coverage, mentioning the insults levied against him Tampa radio shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem without actually referring to his name. The controversy centered on Davis' decision to skip the funerals of two officers killed this month in the line of duty, while attending the funeral of the man who killed them, Hydra Lacy, Jr. (Davis said he would have been too emotional to attend the officers' funeral and he knew members of Lacy's family).
Ruechel never told viewers who his comment was referring to, though the channel had last shown Yeshitela speaking when he said it. Officials at Bay News 9 said they would not comment further on Ruechel's error.