Baltimore TV Anchor Mary Bubala Ousted After Remark About Last Three Mayors

Baltimore WJZ TV anchor Mary Bubala was fired for suggesting Baltimore needs a change from black female mayors, a remark deemed sexist and racist.

The contentious question was raised during a live TV show of WJZ, a CBS affiliate, last Thursday, May 2, when Bubala interviewed Loyola University Maryland Professor Karsonya “Kaye” Wise Whitehead about a scandal that led Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh to resign.

“We’ve had three female, African-American mayors in a row,” Bubala said. “They were all passionate public servants. Two resigned, though. Is this a signal that a different kind of leadership is needed to move Baltimore City forward?”

Whitehead said it did not suggest a different kind of leadership was needed, and she did not address the possible prejudiced overtone in Bubala’s remark on air.

In a statement Whitehead sent via email to the Baltimore Sun, she clarified her stance. “The current conversations around leadership in Baltimore are challenging, emotional, and at times include layers of racism and sexism. There is an assumption that since three black women have served as mayor — and the city has not entirely changed for the better — then perhaps black women are not fit to lead this city. No one can ask racially biased questions in the public sphere — including in the media — without being held accountable.”

Bubala was quick to release a statement saying she was “so deeply sorry and sincerely regret the words I chose.” She expressed her hopes to regain her viewers’ trust.

WJZ, however, stayed silent, and the Baltimore Association of Black Journalists (BABJ) even placed a statement on its website on Monday labeling Bubala’s earlier question “racist and sexist.”

“The question implies race and gender are qualifiers in one’s ability to lead while also demonizing African-Americans and women as poor leaders,” BABJ’s statement said. “While Bubala apologized with a tweet May 3, there was no acknowledgment of the gaffe or apology on-air by her, WJZ-TV or CBS. This is unacceptable since the apology should be administered in the same fashion that the damaging question was delivered.”

On Monday night, WJZ issued a statement to the Baltimore Sun that said: “Mary Bubala is no longer a WJZ-TV employee. The station apologizes to its viewers for her remarks.”

Bubala confirmed Tuesday on Facebook that she’d been fired, saying: “Unfortunately, I now stand in the path of the tornado. WJZ was forced to let me go. I am saddened and shocked by this decision. Baltimore City has been my home for 25 years, and I treasure and am so grateful for the relationships I have made with the people of Baltimore during this time. I fully intend to fight to restore my reputation because I’ve invested my heart and soul in my work and my city. Thank you, Baltimore for all of your support during this difficult period of time. It means so much to me.”

Whitehead said Tuesday in an email to the Baltimore Sun that a Bubala’s question bypasses and masks the fundamental causes behind Baltimore’s problems.

“To imply that this city is where it is today because of the leadership is misleading at best and a lie that erases the systemic racism at work in this city at worst,” she wrote.