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Bay News 9 anchor apologizes for news conference gaffe

The voice aired inadvertently as Bay News 9 was cutting out of its coverage of an emotional news 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' news 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 news channel aired this apology again within minutes of his first mea culpa.

The anchor's original comments came as the channel hurriedly cut away from the final speaker at the news 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.

Ruechel never told viewers whom his comment referred to. Officials at Bay News 9 said they would not comment further on Ruechel's error.

Bay News 9 anchor apologizes for news conference gaffe 03/04/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 4, 2011 11:04pm]

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