Jeremy Kappell told Inside Edition he became tongue-tied during a broadcast when he uttered what sounded like an offensive slur while speaking about Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday morning during his report.
The moment quickly went viral, with viewers taking to social media to vent their outrage. “This guy needs to be fired,” was one tweet. “Wow. Call the station. This should be addressed,” said another. “What was said was racist and willful. Point blank,” added a third.
Even the city's mayor. Lovely Warren, weighed in and pulled no punches. "It is beyond unacceptable that this occurred," she said in a statement. "There must be real consequences for the news personality involved."
By Sunday night, Kappell had been fired.
But he insists it's all a misunderstanding. "I simply ran his name too fast, Martin Luther King Jr., came out too fast," Kappell told Inside Edition.
Added his wife, Lisa, "We are shook to the core."
Now, the weatherman is getting support from some big names in TV news.
“Anyone who's done this as long as we've done it on air, you flub, you make mistakes. It would seem as if the guy made a genuine mistake,” Craig Melvin said on the "Today" show.
Fellow weatherman Al Roker tweeted: “I think @jeremykappell made an unfortunate flub and should be given the chance to apologize... Anyone who has done live TV and screwed up understands.”
A petition supporting the now-fired weatherman called “I Stand Behind Jeremy Kappell," has gotten 33,000 signatures. Just 12 people have signed a counter-petition, "Do Not Rehire Jeremy Kappell After His Racist Words."
The station is standing by its decision to terminate Kappell.
"An utterance such as this, with no immediate apology, regardless of intent, is unacceptable and inexcusable. We believe we have done what is right for our station and our community,” the station said.