The site references an attempt made by Whitfield to apologize for calling James Boulware, the identified gunman accused of opening fire at the Dallas police headquarters “courageous and brave” on Saturday (June 13). “courageous and brave” via the following comment:
“It was very courageous and brave, if not crazy as well, to open fire on the police headquarters, and now you have this scene, this standoff. So you believe these are the hallmarks of more than one person’s involvement.”
Whitfield’s comment triggered a firestorm of criticism on social media as well as a demand for an apology from the Dallas-Ft. Worth Police Department. On Sunday (June 14), Whitfield went on the air to issue what Mediaite, labeled as a “non-apology” during her 2 p.m. ET broadcast:
“And yesterday, during a segment on the Dallas Police Department attack, I used the words courageous and brave when discussing the gunman. I misspoke. And in no way believe the gunman was courageous nor brave. And I’ll be right back.” Whitfield said before cutting to commercial.
Analyzing Whitfield’s initial comment, her “non-apology” and CNN’s handling of the situation, Mediaite gave both parties a thumbs down as it pointed out that the host chose “precisely the wrong words at the wrong time’ and acknowledged the “perilous business” live television. Nevertheless, the site observed that despite how it came off, Whitfield’s comments were patently tone-deaf, but not malicious toward the Dallas-Fort Worth PD (which is calling for an apology) or police officers in general.
“Of course, Whitfield should have absolutely known better having sat in an anchor chair during situations like this for nearly two decades, having worked for the NBC Nightly News before CNN since 1995,” Mediaite noted while referencing Bill Maher’s infamous firing after he seemingly praised the 9/11 hijackers for being “not cowardly” and called the U.S. cowardly. “So should Whitfield be fired as well? Not even close. Suspended? Don’t think so…only because there was no intent here.”
Regarding the “non-apology,” Mediaite felt that the show’s executive producer should’ve demanded Whitfield to apologize during the show after returning from break. Either that or she should’ve did it “on Twitter immediately after the show.”
“By not doing so, the steady drumbeat on social media and online publications have featured the same question: Has Fredricka Whitfield apologized for her (insert derogatory term here) yet? , the site commented. “CNN PR had no comment for nearly 24 hours. Whitfield’s Twitter account went silent. Why let this story grow and fester when it so easily could have been snuffed out via apology? Instead, publications from Mediaite (who was first with the story and was our most viewed item of the weekend by a country mile) to the Washington Times to ABC to Variety to The Hollywood Reporter all ran stories on the comment.”
Overall, Mediaite believes Whitfield will likely not be punished for what she said
“In the end, this was an error without intent. It happens to the best of us on live TV, the site concluded as it expressed that “it’s hard to find anything controversial during Whitfield’s 20 years in national news and voiced that Whitlock deserves, “some credit for making the apology in the same forum (on her CNN program as opposed to a Twitter-only mea culpa or through a statement off-air), although she stopped short of apologizing for misspeaking… something she should have done at least to the Dallas-Fort Worth PD, who, as mentioned earlier, specifically asked for an apology. Just a guess, but by not saying she was sorry, she just made this situation worse.”
“… it’s the unforced error that made this story much bigger than it had to be,” added Mediaite. “CNN, Whitfield, and her producer all asleep at the wheel. And during naptime, they didn’t get out in front of the story… making it a very needlessly long 24 hours for Fredricka Whitfield indeed.”