Politics

08.29.12

Yahoo Cans Staffer for Anti-Romney Slam

Washington bureau chief David Chalian was overheard portraying the Romneys as insensitive to black victims of Tropical Storm Isaac. Howard Kurtz on the dangers of speaking while miked.

Yahoo abruptly fired its Washington bureau chief on Wednesday after he was caught on a hot mic taking a racially charged swipe at Mitt Romney and his wife.

David Chalian lost his job after he was overheard saying that the Romneys are “happy to have a party with black people drowning.”

Chalian’s comment, a reference to the tropical storm battering Louisiana, was made during a webcast at the Republican convention that is part of a partnership between Yahoo and ABC News. On Tuesday, Chalian and ABC’s Jonathan Karl jointly interviewed members of the Romney brain trust.

Yahoo said in a statement: “David Chalian’s statement was inappropriate and does not represent the views of Yahoo!. He has been terminated effective immediately. We have already reached out to the Romney campaign, and we apologize to Mitt Romney, his staff, their supporters and anyone who was offended.”

The remarks were first reported by Newsbusters, part of the conservative watchdog group Media Research Center, which has posted the video. Chalian is a former ABC news political director, and also served as political director of PBS’s NewsHour.

It is unfortunate that a journalist’s career can implode so quickly over one ill-considered comment. At the same time, Chalian’s words were so biased against Romney, and racially inflammatory, that Yahoo management undoubtedly felt it had no choice. That kind of unguarded remark also feeds perceptions that the mainstream media is biased against Romney.

Late in the day, Chalian posted the following apology on Facebook: “I am profoundly sorry for making an inappropriate and thoughtless joke. I was commenting on the challenge of staging a convention during a hurricane and about campaign optics. I have apologized to the Romney campaign, and I want to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to Gov. and Mrs. Romney. I also regret causing any distraction from the exceptional coverage of the Republican convention by Yahoo News and ABC News.”

Video screenshot

The comment that brought down Chalian.