12/19: Cari Champion gets a 2nd chance (UPDATED)
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Cari Champion (above), who may or may not have accidentally uttered a curse word over the air last month, lost her job Nov. 20 but after lobbying for the station publicly and privately, WGCL-TV is giving her a second chance.
She is back on the air January 7, but she will no longer do weekend anchor work. Instead, she’ll be a reporter with a 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. weekday shift, according to news director Rick Erbach. He declined to comment about the circumstances behind her firing or rehiring. (Actually, Erbach was mistaken, according to Champion’s attorney Dan Kolber Thursday evening. He said he negotiated a deal in which she got to return as weekend anchor.)
In mid-November, Champion said what some thought was a nasty profanity when she didn’t realize the mike was on. She later told Richard Prince of the Maynard Institute that she actually said “mothersucka,” but admitted even that was problematic. She said she made a mistake but felt she didn’t deserve to be fired over it. Based on the audio I heard, it could go either way.
At 11 p.m. Wednesday, I received a Blackberry message from her for the first time, but she didn’t want to talk until Thursday. Her attorney told her not to talk until things were clarified so I have yet to hear from her as of Thursday evening. He said she might call me later tonight. We’ll see.)
Here’s what she originally told Prince at the Maynard Institute:
“I was talking to my co-anchor during a commercial break. The floor director did not cue me or my co-anchor, and when it was time to tease an upcoming story, you could only hear us but not see us.
“My co-anchor and I were talking about a mechanical screenwriter. It is difficult to use at times. The last part of our conversation was silly banter and barely audible, but it was picked up. I called the screenwriter a ‘mothersucka’ not the f-bomb. I emphatically deny any attempted cover up of the mishap. In fact I was the one who brought it to the attention of the news directors. And, the beta tape, wherever it is, has conversation that clearly supports my position.”