A Los Angeles news anchor was fired after criticizing his own on-air station for the way it handled the abrupt departure of his former co-anchor from the air, a report said.
Mark Mester, of KTLA, was suspended and then booted after delivering a surprising, off-script defense from former co-anchor and friend Lynette Romero – who didn’t get a chance to say goodbye on the air, several employees of the television station told the Los Angeles Times.
The station’s manager reportedly told editorial staff of the termination during a short speech Thursday.
The resignation comes after Mester said goodbye to his “best friend” Romero in a segment where he said it was “unfortunate” that the station didn’t give her a “proper goodbye”.
“I want to start now by apologizing to you,” Mester said to viewers on Saturday. “What the viewers experienced was rude, cruel, inappropriate and we are so sorry.
“I also want to say sorry to Lynette Romero because Lynette, I love you so much, you are literally my best friend. You didn’t deserve what happened to you.”
During the monologue, Mester also mentioned that a plane flew over the station with a message of gratitude for Romero. According to the LA Times, the plane was hired by Mester holding a banner that reads, “We love you, Lynette.”
Mester wanted to include the images of the plane in a compilation of images and videos that the station played during the farewell, the newspaper reports.
Producers wrote a script for Mester to read about Romero, staffers told the LA Times, but instead the anchor went rogue, saying he was appalled that Romero wasn’t getting airtime telling the public she was leaving.
“We’re going to offer you dignity and grace, which this station should have done from the start,” Mester said, seemingly defiantly.
“You didn’t deserve this, we’re sorry, it was a mistake and we just hope you can find it in your heart to forgive us,” Mester added.
Romero, an institution who had worked at the station for 24 years, moved to another station after unsuccessfully asking her bosses if she could work a weekday anchor crew instead of working weekends, the LA Times reported.
“I will always be grateful for the love and affection LA viewers have given me,” Romero tweeted last week. “Stay tuned my friends, I’ll be right back.”
Mester was troubled by KTLA’s original greeting to Romero on Sept. 14, when reporter Sam Rubin said Romero “has decided to continue anchoring our weekend morning news.”
“We really wanted her to stay, and KTLA’s management worked hard to make that happen,” Rubin said, according to the LA Times. “Lynette decided to leave for another chance.
“We had hoped she would record a farewell message for viewers, but she declined. Lynette has been a wonderful member of the KTLA family and we wish her and her family the best.”