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KEYE defends Flores firing, viewers respond

Sports anchor Robert Flores, fired last week by KEYE for uttering an expletive on a taped segment that was never meant to air, is getting a lot of support from the public.

And perhaps as a result, KEYE’s management, which had declined to comment for our article in Tuesday’s newspaper, has decided to share some thoughts.

Michael Reed, on the job as general manager for only three days when the incident occurred, wants people to know he feels bad for Flores but he believes the firing was justified.

“I really do feel for Robert,” Reed said today. “It’s a tough situation for him to be in, but our company has a zero-tolerance policy on this. If you do slip up and say something, you should make sure it doesn’t go on the air. That’s where Robert’s accountability comes into play. He should have made sure that tape went no further.”

The tape was made Monday night for Tuesday’s early morning news. When Flores muttered the f-word after a loud noise in the studio, he assumed the subsequent re-take was taped over the flub. Instead, it somehow survived and wound up days later, on the air on KEYE’s Thursday morning news.

Reed says the tape operator was fired and the technical director resigned. He declined to identify those former employees. He says the “bad take” wound up on the air “through a series of mishaps.” The decision to fire Flores, Reed says, was “corporate-wide.” KEYE is owned by CBS, which is owned by Viacom Inc.

Until the article in the American-Statesman was published Tuesday and several radio programs began discussing Flores’ firing, Reed says KEYE received little response to the situation. He says they’ve still received only a few calls and e-mails.

But people are certainly calling and e-mailing the American-Statesman. Among the responses:

“This is a young man who made a silly mistake. I do not like this particular word, but have we not all cursed or used foul language at some stage in our life that we have regretted?”

“I am not sure I have heard of a more ridiculous circumstance for a firing. They should fire the person in charge of editing the tape. These type of incidents make blooper reels in prime time, and everyone laughs about them.”

“Isn’t that the very same word recently employed by Vice President Dick Cheney in the United States Senate against Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont?!? He didn’t get fired as a result, and he expressed no remorse whatsoever.”

“KEYE-TV’s decision to fire Robert Flores for the reason given is ludicrous. . . . Robert has done his work and is a victim of corporate decision-makers who not only do not know what they are doing, but are afraid of making the right decisions. He has been a victim of someone else’s mistake, and he has been punished unfairly.”

“Did he make a mistake in choosing the word he used when startled? Yes. I think a bigger mistake was made in production by airing an out-take that had no other value than to ruin his reputation. An even bigger mistake was made by management in firing Robert.”

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