Mark Saxenmeyer fired from KSTP for making gay joke in story [UPDATES]
Saxenmeyer's year-and-a-half tenure at KSTP came to an end on Tuesday thanks to a joke gone awry.
-- Updates at bottom --
We've given C.J. a lot of grief for writing columns about Julie Nelson's boobs and Christian Ponder's bereft love life (before he got together with Sam, of course), but we've got to give her credit. Yesterday, she broke a story about reporter Mark Saxenmeyer's dismissal from KSTP-TV.
Saxenmeyer, who is gay, lost his job for an ironic reason -- an "inappropriate gay reference" he inserted into a story as a joke somehow wasn't edited out before the report was published online.
On Saturday, due to a scheduling conflict, Saxenmeyer handed off a story about gay Twin Cities fathers Paul Melchert and James Zimmerman visiting the White House for an Easter event to colleague Katherine Johnson. But in the process of trying to help Johnson with some prep work, Saxenmeyer pulled a prank that would cost him his job three days later. Here's how he explained what happened to C.J.:
"We were having a conversation about sensitivity issues when it comes to [covering the gay community]. She was asking what are the appropriate questions to ask a gay couple? It was good conversation because, as a gay man, I like to help people better understand gay people, and oftentimes you can do that through humor.
"I'm an admitted jokester. Humor defuses awkward situations. Sometimes through humor you gain a better understanding. She was in the process of writing her Web script on her computer. So I wrote a few things into the Web script to make her laugh.
"She came over, looked at [what he'd written], laughed, and I said, 'Make sure you delete that because obviously that would not be funny out of context.' She deleted most of it. There was one little part she missed when she closed it."
The "inappropriate gay reference" that accidentally made it to the web was deleted as quickly as KSTP's editors spotted it, and this "Editor's Note" was then affixed to the story: "Earlier today comments were published erroneously regarding this story. KSTP does not condone the comments. Action is being taken to ensure that this does not happen again."
KSTP's news director wouldn't comment on what punishment Saxenmeyer received, but C.J. put two and two together when she tried to click on Saxenmeyer's KSTP bio but instead ended up on a page with an "ERROR" message.
Saxenmeyer, to his credit, seems to be handling his firing in a mature way. Here's more of what he had to say to C.J.:
"Bizarre ironic is what it is. I'm not sorry for me. I'm a big boy; I'll get over it. I made a profoundly stupid mistake. There's just no getting around that. I have apologized profusely. It was stupid, inappropriate, irresponsible. It is beyond comprehensible.
"Make that clear. I don't want anyone else to suffer repercussions of this. I especially don't want the gay community to be hurt or offended in any way. They are the last people I would ever want to malign and disparage...
"I don't want KSTP to suffer in any way. I know KSTP knows it did not come from a place of malice. I had nothing but a terrific year and a half there. I'm old enough to understand this was a grievous mistake. I hate to have the other reporter's name dragged into this. I just feel so terrible. I feel like I've kicked myself in my own butt here. I will forever regret this."
Unfortunately, it isn't clear what Saxenmeyer's "inappropriate gay reference" was, but rest assured (see update below) we'll update this post if we're able to find out.
:::: UPDATE ::::
It appears Saxenmeyer got himself in trouble by referring to Melchert and Zimmerman as "big HOMO dads."
From the comment section of the story in question:
:::: UPDATE II ::::
The original version of the story that got Saxenmeyer fired has been preserved in Google's cache. Here it is, with the offending passage highlighted:
-- h/t: David Brauer --
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