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A viewer called Atlanta news anchor Sharon Reed the n-word. She responded on air.

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 2017-12-07 Kyle Swenson
a flat screen television: Atlanta news anchor Sharon Reed interrupted a lived broadcast to address a racist viewer © WGCL-TV via AP Atlanta news anchor Sharon Reed interrupted a lived broadcast to address a racist viewer

On Tuesday night all of Atlanta was anxiously waiting out the results of the city’s mayoral election, a nail-biter shot through with racial and historical implications.

Two city councilwomen — Mary Norwood and Keisha Lance Bottoms — were up for the city’s top job, with less than 800 votes giving Bottoms the win. But the election was significant in that had Norwood bested the other candidate, it would have been the first time Atlanta elected a white mayor since 1969.

As the local CBS 46’s news anchors discussed the results, Sharon Reed, Ben Swann, and Alicia Roberts discussed how the shifting racial demographics of Atlanta played a part in the election.

Then in the middle of the broadcast, Reed, the only African American on the panel, pumped the brakes.

Warning: the following video contains offensive language. 

“A woman by the name of Kathy Rae emailed me, we’re going to put that email on the screen and then I’ll comment after it. I think its fair for people to see what she wrote,” Reed announced.

The comment flashed up on the screen, and Reed read the note.

“You need to be fired for the race baiting comment you made tonight. It’s o.k. for blacks to discuss certain subjects but not whites. Really??? you are what I call a N—r not a black person. you are a racist N—r. you are what’s wrong with the world.”

Reed stared directly into the camera and stated she never said white people couldn’t talk about race.

“Quite the contrary, we think that race is an authentic discussion to have. It’s one we’re having tonight because it’s one that you are talking about at home and it’s one that has clearly entered the Atlanta mayor’s race. That’s why, behind the scenes, my colleagues and I — white and black — we decided, hey let’s go for it.”

She continued: “When arguing with somebody you have to be careful not to mischaracterize their viewpoint, so I won’t mischaracterize your view either, Kathy Rae. I get it. On Dec. 5, 2017, you think it’s OK to call this journalist a ‘n—-r’. I don’t. But I could clap back and say a few things to you. But instead I’ll let your words, Kathy Rae, speak for themselves. And that will be the last word.”

The anchor’s pointed take-down immediately caught fire on Twitter and social media.

“Just another day at the office,” Reed wrote later on her Facebook page. “Not the first time I’ve been called that word.”

The election results are set to be officially verified Saturday. Norwood would then have 48-hours to request an official recount.


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