Reflecting on Catherine Pugh’s historic resignation on Thursday afternoon, anyone with basic knowledge of the scandal would recall that her ethically questionable children’s book business dealings, currently under state and federal investigative scrutiny, contributed to her decision to step down.
And while logic would suggest it was both Pugh’s and Dixon’s financial misdeeds that caused their mayoral terms to end prematurely, WJZ-TV’s Mary Bubala offered a cringe-worthy alternative explanation last night during a political analysis segment with Kaye Whitehead, an associate professor of communication and African and African-American Studies at Loyola University Maryland.
“The question I have for you,” Bubala posed: “We’ve had three female African-American mayors in a row—they were all passionate public servants, two resigned, though. Is it a signal that a different kind of leadership is needed to move Baltimore City forward?”
Here’s the clip with some added commentary from BET news anchor Andre Showell, who captured the segment.
Baltimoreans, including a number of local journalists, and others who stumbled across the clip today expressed collective outrage about the racist implications of the question.
Soooooo this happened following the resignation of #Baltimore Mayor #CatherinePugh. URGH!🤦🏾♀️🤦🏾♂️🤷🏾♀️🤷🏾♂️ I'm not even sure I want to hear the excuse for this. I'm cringing and cursing🤬. (Reposting 📹video from @AndreShowell) pic.twitter.com/DPZfdnedFP
— Nicki Mayo (@nickimayonews) May 3, 2019
“We’ve had three female, African-American mayors in a row. They were all passionate public servants, two resigned though. Is it a signal that a different kind of leadership is needed to move Baltimore forward?”
— Erica L. Green (@EricaLG) May 3, 2019
I would have wanted to flip the table. But then I would have been called an angry black woman. And I’m sure that would have made great tv 🙃 https://t.co/pHqd0VPAyy
— Lisa Snowden-McCray (@LisaMcCray) May 3, 2019
This is offensive and she shouldn't be on the air https://t.co/vRewJXA0yW
— Marcus H. Johnson (@marcushjohnson) May 3, 2019
@MaryWJZ @marybubala Did you say this on the news today after the resignation of #CatherinePugh as #Mayor of #Baltimore? @bdutton33 alleges that you said this & I want to make sure your words were accurately conveyed before sharing my thoughts. pic.twitter.com/4bUMgqMmap
— Dr. Heber Brown III (@HeberBrown) May 3, 2019
This is disgusting and not ok. https://t.co/CNM8NUQEGp
— David Pontious (@DavidPontious) May 3, 2019
.@wjz is @marybubala's racist question ok with you? “We’ve had 3 female, African-American mayors in a row. They were all passionate public servants, 2 resigned though. Is it a signal that a different kind of leadership is needed to move Baltimore forward?” https://t.co/dZDaXi7QXq
— (((Evan Serpick))) (@Serps) May 3, 2019
Those who did not see the response from Whitehead are left wondering what she could have said in response. Whitehead has said that she’ll share soon; we’ve also reached out to her for comment.
Bubala has since apologized. WJZ-TV sent Baltimore Fishbowl the following statement from the anchor and reporter, who’s been with channel 13 for the last 16 years.
“Last night, during a live interview, I asked a question that did not come out the way I intended. I am so deeply sorry and sincerely regret the words I chose. I appreciate those who have contacted me to share how this has impacted them. I am devastated that the words I used portray me as someone that I know I am not. I hope you allow me the opportunity to regain your trust.”
In apologies to Twitter users, Bubala said she combined two questions in her head and the words came out wrong.
I am so very sorry. The way my question came out was not what I intended to ask because race and gender are irrelevant to one's leadership abilities. I combined two questions in my head during a live interview and said something I didn't mean to.
— Mary Bubala (@MaryWJZ) May 3, 2019
Bubala did not respond to an email asking what those questions were.
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