The St. Louis NAACP is encouraging CH Holdings’ local news/talk/sports outlet KTRS (the Big 550) to reconsider its firing of host David Lenihan. On March 22, a media grenade was launched after he accidentally referred to Secretary of State Condoleeze Rice as a "coon" instead of calling her potential hiring as NFL Commissioner a "coup." He had been with the station only two weeks.
"This is an event that the press has blown out of proportion," said NAACP chapter president Harold Crumpton. Seated next to him at a news conference was the organization's newest members: Lenihan and his wife, Karen, according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "He doesn't even say those words," she said. "We're just trying to find a way to make a positive out of this," the newspaper reported.
NAACP member Sam Moore said that some might find it strange that the organization had come to the rescue of a talk-show host who used the word "coon" while talking about Rice: "We're going to take some hits," he said. "People are going to wonder why we are sticking up for my new-found friend here. But I am in the forgiving business."
Following the meeting, reports surfaced that Lenihan and the station have reached a settlement deal over the firing—but it was unclear if that meant he would be returning to the air. It was announced that he was being replaced by returning host McGraw Milhaven.
In the broadcast, the jock was leading a positive discussion of Rice, saying, "She's been chancellor of Stanford. She’s just got a patent resume, of somebody that’s got such serious skill. She loves football. She's African-American, which would kind of be a big coon. A big coon. Oh my God. I am totally, totally, totally, totally, totally sorry for that."
Station GM Tim Dorsey acknowledged that the remark was accidental, but said it was nonetheless "unacceptable, reprehensible and unforgivable. There can be no excuse for what was said. Dave Lenihan has been let go. ... There is enough hate. We certainly are not going to fan those flames."
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