Critics slam Mary Bubala’s on air-question about mayoral scandal, calling it racist

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Photo via Mary Bubala/Facebook

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.

Since the “Healthy Holly” news broke, many have pointed to a prior mayoral scandal that led Sheila Dixon to resign as Baltimore’s mayor less than a decade ago.

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.

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.

Bubala did not respond to an email asking what those questions were.

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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in CityLab, Slate, Baltimore City Paper, DCist and elsewhere.
Ethan McLeod
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