The CBC journalist apologizes for using a racist slur and the Lainey Gossip editor admits old blog posts were racist and homophobic
Two Canadian media personalities have issued apologies in the wake of fallout arising from controversies about racist language.
An investigation into the use of “offensive language” by a CBC News host has resulted in disciplinary action against The Weekly host Wendy Mesley, who was suspended on June 9 after using a racist slur during an editorial meeting.
Mesley apologized on social media and explained that she was quoting a journalist who was to be a panellist on a forthcoming segment.
An internal investigation was launched and, on June 25, the public broadcaster confirmed that Mesley had used “offensive language” on two separate occasions during editorial meetings.
On June 25, Mesley posted an explanationon social media that made clear she had used the N-word.
She said that she used the word not as a slur but in her “desire to share and expose an outrage amid this much-needed reckoning with anti-Black racism” and that, as a journalist with 35 years of experience in pursuit of the truth, by using the term, she thought she was “exposing the truth.”
In addition, she clarified that she was not directly quoting the journalist but used the full word the journalist had been called, not the abbreviated form that the journalist had used.
However, she said that she realizes now that her “abuse of the word” was “harmful” and hurt others.
In addition, she referred to an incident in September 2019 in which she said the title of a 1968 book by journalist Pierre Vallières, which includes the same racial slur, during a meeting for The Weekly.
“I thought that by using the word in reference to journalism I was shining a light on anti-Black racism,” she explained. “I now realize that I did the opposite and I am now one example of the problem.”
In response, CBC has suspended the remaining episodes of the current season of The Weekly but has not yet revealed what disciplinary actions will be taken.
A day later, CBC associate producer Imani Walker posted on Twitter that she was on the call when Mesley said the N-word.
“I have stayed quiet until now but it’s important to note: There was ‘disciplinary’ action because I was on the call,” she said. “There was a Black person present to hold people accountable.”
Meanwhile, Lainey Gossip blogger, eTalk anchor and The Social cohost Elaine “Lainey” Lui also faced criticism this past week for blog posts in the 2000s that she admitted were racist, misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic.
She apologized on The Social on June 25, explaining that she was a part of toxic celebrity culture as she found popularity and success.
“The Lainey Gossip website has evolved in that time and I have addressed and apologized over the years for these sins, however, accountability is not temporary, it’s ongoing, so I’m here today to be accountable,” she stated.
She said she wasn’t going to delete those posts because they are a part of her “ugly history” and her shame, and to show that “self-absolution has no place in this conversation – it’s about accountability.”
Lui’s apology came after fellow eTalk anchor Ben Mulroney stepped down from the show.
His resignation was in response to fallout from lifestyle blogger Sasha Exeter, who is Black, revealing how his wife, Jessica Mulroney, threatened her during a dispute about racial issues.
CTV cancelled Jessica Mulroney’s reality TV show I Do Redo, and ABC’s Good Morning America has also dropped her as a contributor.
Ben Mulroney will remain a co-host of CTV’s Your Morning.
This story originally appeared in the Georgia Straight.
With files from NOW Magazine.