POLITICS

Baltimore Anchor Out After Linking Race, Gender To Mayoral Misdeeds

Mary Bubala asked last week if it was time for "a different kind of leadership" after the city had three female African American mayors in a row.

Baltimore anchorwoman Mary Bubala is out of her job with the city’s CBS affiliate, after asking last week if Baltimore’s last three mayors were the wrong fit because of their race and gender.

The station’s public affairs manager Susan Otradovec confirmed the news in an emailed statement to HuffPost. “Mary Bubala is no longer a WJZ-TV employee,” the statement read. “The station apologizes to its viewers for her remarks.”

About those remarks: Last Thursday, after Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned, Bubala asked Loyola University Maryland professor Karsonya (Kaye) Wise Whitehead to comment on Pugh’s resignation, in light of the resignation of a different mayor in 2010 who was also a black woman. Bubala couched her question in terms of race and gender.

“We’ve had three female African American mayors in a row,” Bubala opened. “They were all passionate public servants.”

“Two resigned, though,” she said. “Is this a signal that a different kind of leadership is needed to move Baltimore City forward?”

The question sparked a firestorm on social media, where video of the interaction went viral.

Bubala offered an apology on Twitter the next day, saying the question “did not come out the way [she] intended.”

But the Baltimore Association of Black Journalists deemed it insufficient, noting neither Bubala nor WJZ-TV acknowledged the question or apologized for it on air.

BABJ elaborated on why the question was so problematic in a statement Monday:

This question implies race and gender are qualifiers in one’s ability to lead while also demonizing African-Americans and women as poor leaders. We feel certain Bubala would not have asked this same question of white male leadership. Moreover, the implicit bias present in Bubala’s interview should be addressed company-wide at WJZ-TV, with a concerted effort to avoid marginalizing by race and gender, particularly in a city whose population reflects its leadership demographics. 

Bubala’s line of questioning was prompted by former mayor Catherine Pugh, who resigned last Thursday amid an investigation into a line of children’s books she authored, then made hundreds of thousands of dollars selling them to government partners and private companies seeking to do business with the city.

Two other black women also held the office immediately before Pugh: Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who served a full term; and Sheila Dixon, who resigned after she was indicted for embezzling gift cards intended for the needy.

On Tuesday, former Mayor Rawlings-Blake seemed surprised by Bubala’s departure.

“Didn’t think WJZ was gong to do the right thing,” she tweeted. “Her statement was problematic on many levels and revealed a profound ignorance.”

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