NEW YORK — Yahoo News fired its Washington bureau chief on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after he was caught on an open microphone saying that Mitt Romney and his wife, at the Republican convention in Florida while a hurricane was approaching Louisiana, were “happy to have a party with black people drowning.”
Company spokeswoman Anne Espiritu said Wednesday that David Chalian’s remark was inappropriate and does not represent Yahoo’s views.
“We have already reached out to the Romney campaign, and we apologize to Mitt Romney, his staff, their supporters and anyone who was offend,” she said.
Chalian made the remark during a hot-mic moment before Yahoo began its live coverage of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday evening. Yahoo is streaming coverage in association with ABC News.
The website Newsbusters posted a copy of the video and the audio. The video showed Ann and Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, while the audio picked up background conversation, not all of it intelligible, about the Republican convention taking place as Hurricane Isaac was about to hit the Louisiana coast.
Someone makes a remark, “they’re not concerned at all.” In a clearer voice, Chalian says, “they are happy to have a party with black people drowning.”
Chalian said Wednesday that he was “profoundly sorry for making an inappropriate and thoughtless joke.”
“I was commenting on the challenge of staging a convention during a hurricane and about campaign optics,” he said. “I have apologized to the Romney campaign, and I want to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to governor and Mrs. Romney.”
Rescuers in boats and trucks plucked a handful of people who became stranded by floodwaters in thinly populated areas of southeast Louisiana during the storm. But only one death had been reported as the hurricane plodded across the state, that of a man who authorities said had gone to help friends move a vehicle from under a tree and fell after climbing 18 feet up it.
— Associated Press