Mark Saxenmeyer fired from KSTP for making gay joke in story [UPDATES]

Categories: Media
Mark Saxenmeyer rect.jpg
KSTP
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.

SEE ALSO: Star Tribune's C.J. calls Julie Nelson and Belinda Jensen, asks them if they're fat or pregnant

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:

kstp comment.jpg


:::: 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:

kstp text.jpg

-- h/t: David Brauer --


My Voice Nation Help
23 comments
djskagnetti
djskagnetti

Get your heads out of your big HOMO asses and rehire this excellent big HOMO reporter, big HOMO KSTP.  Big HOMO thanks in advance and have a great big HOMO day.

KCEAV
KCEAV

KSTP can do anything they wish.  Too bad they don't have the strength and principles to help a valued employee who has made a mistake.  Too bad they are blowing this out of proportion because they are afraid of their own shadow.   If Mr. Saxenmeyer was a valued employee that happened to make a mistake, corrective action would be the right path.  Termination is that over-reaction that PC organizations jump to because they lack any true leadership and possess absolutely no perspective.  While KSTP is being so strident, they should also fire tKatherine Johnson who took over the story for her part in this.  They should also fire the editors who let the story go online before editing it.  They should also fire the person whose policy is being followed that allows stories to go online without editing.   PC organizations have no soul because they don't stand for anything except the desperate and knee-jerk reactions that come from being frightened by public sentiment.  You can't be trusted as a real news organization if everything is so sterile, clean, and homogenized out of fear of insulting someone.  Life is messy and the public understands that. You will always have critics.  You can't please everyone. You can have a set of principles that are grounded in growth rather than zero tolerance nonsense that weak leaders possess.  If someone complains, hear them, understand them, but always use your guiding principles to analyze the situation and help individuals and your collective organization grow.  Firing someone for such a small offense is like a pitcher cutting off his arm when he throws a ball instead of a strike.  Get some perspective.  We have all made mistakes. As the wise saying goes, "Let the first one who hasn't, cast the first stone."  I am disappointed at the short-sightedness of the management but I respect KSTP's right to make a decision.  We have seen a pattern that is so common nowadays.  Zero tolerance is stridently harsh and allows for zero growth.  It is for the simple-minded who feel they must judge others harshly and severely.  The irony is that they always fall prey to this stupid policy eventually.  In this case, they lost a great employee because they inanely stuck their heads up their rear rather than dealing with the fallout of managing their employees like they would like to be treated if they, themselves, made a mistake.  Sorry Mark!! Hopefully you can land somewhere that has same incredibly strong integrity you have shown by owning up to your very simple and, upon explanation, totally understandable, mistake.    Good Luck!!

tjswift
tjswift

So what was the big deal? Are they dwarfs?

bethann.bloom
bethann.bloom

The comments by viewers were much worse than the little bit of humor

Michele Froah Burnett
Michele Froah Burnett

Was the woman responsible for editing the piece reprimanded at all? She obviously didn't do her job.

Michele Andrews
Michele Andrews

He admits it was stupid and it was. But to lose his job and have his career this damaged is very sad. The punishment does not seem to fit the "crime". It is especially sad as he meant nothing malicious and has taken full responsibility.

Noah Tea
Noah Tea

A straight man would be fired even if it was in jest. CP would probably be vilifying him too

Kari Adamsen Spampinato
Kari Adamsen Spampinato

Was it something that KSTP would be sued over? Would his apology to the public never work? It sounds like it was clearly overlooked by the people that should have caught it. Were the editors out to lunch? I think a 2nd chance would be in order. Now watch the backlash against KSTP snowball.

Nick Hammer
Nick Hammer

KSTP are oversensitive babies, rehire him!

msummers5
msummers5

Firing seems rather draconian, but I'm impressed at Mr. Saxenmeyer's response to it, and I hope he's not unemployed for long.

Gene Hanf
Gene Hanf

I would rather know how many people were offended by a bit of humor and why. No, way to many double standards now days. Many communities have seemingly offense name calling within the community that is totally accepted in context.

Jay Robertson
Jay Robertson

I thought it was something horrible - then I read it. REALLY - the Twin Cities gay community is THAT sensitive? C'mon - you HAD an openly gay reporter. Sounds like someone from Oklahoma saw it and complained.

Joe Strom
Joe Strom

Agreed with these people so far, the vicious beat called Political Correctness has gotten out of control, and we can't even make jokes normally anymore. If he had said "Two hetero parents", no one would care.

Susie Saxhaug
Susie Saxhaug

Honestly, I think perhaps KSTP should give the public (and for sure the gay community) a little more credit for having both a sense of humor and the ability to forgive what was obviously a non-malicious lapse in judgment.

Damian Amberg
Damian Amberg

Absolutely not. We need to grow up and not be so damn sensitive. Go read George Orwell's '1984'.. that's where we are headed.

Lisa Tyler
Lisa Tyler

Nope! I liked him, and the comment was funny not mean. At least in my opinion.

k2yeb
k2yeb topcommenter

This is just further proof that we are a relatively liberal nation when it comes to politics, but an incredibly prude an immature nation when it comes to sex, drugs, and language.  As a child of a french teacher growing up, I found it fascinating how more open other countries are with things like nudity and sexuality. Oh well, I guess we like to create closet porn addicts and sexual deviants.

Men can't act like men anymore. Kids can't act like kids anymore. Its really unfortunate how we pretend millions of years of evolution and survival can be redirected with a few laws or punishment.

I feel for this guy, as I too have gotten in trouble for a joke early in my career. Best of luck getting new work.

A1batross
A1batross

I, too, have lost a job due to an inappropriate attempt at comedy, so I empathize. My motto is "comedy is dangerous" for a reason.

keny1
keny1

@Noah Tilsen Oh you know that's right! The hypocrite Liberals who post on here would be screaming for his head on a platter if he were straight.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...