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FCC Contacted For Native American Racism On Madison’s WMTV

September 24, 2021

A complaint to a local television station has escalated into contact with the FCC concerning the airing of the caricature of Chief Wahoo representing a Cleveland baseball team.

Readers to this blog might recall that on August 12th I posted a comment about WMTV’s sports report where racist images were aired, twice in one day.

I am outraged!  I watched the CW news at 9 and couldn’t believe when the sports anchor reported the Brewers’ score and there was the caricature of Chief Wahoo representing Cleveland on the screen!  So I watched at 10 and the same damn thing!  The team retired this graphic as the racist, demeaning symbol it is years ago.  And yet WMTV uses it twice!  

Since the viewer did not receive the courtesy of a response from WMTV about what was aired the complaint was sent to Washington.

I was watching the 9 p.m. newscast on WMTV2. On the sports report, the anchor was standing in front of a screen with Brewers spelled out and the racist Chief Wahoo mascot to represent the Cleveland Indians. The team itself retired this graphic years ago because of it’s sterotypical and minstrel show like features. I thought, “this must be a mistake, or an inexperienced intern added the wrong graphic” But on the 10 p.m. newscast, the same thing. This racist graphic should have been retired from the graphics library long ago. I filled out their comment form, called the sports department and left a voicemail demanding an apology on their next evening’s newscast. I also emailed the news and programming departs. Never heard anything back. Apparently they think they can get away with using racist representations on the public airwaves and don’t have to answer the public.

From the perspective of this blogger’s desk, it would seem the most appropriate response should have been forthcoming from WMTV. It is troubling that no feedback was given to a legitimate concern about racism against Native Americans–coming from the most liberal city in the state. If we can not do what is right here what should be expected above Highway 29?

Having worked in radio, and often commenting on the use of the public airwaves on Caffeinated Politics, I firmly hold to the accountability that license holders have to the public with these types of issues. We know that mistakes happen on the air, but when they do it is essential that an honest statement be made, and an earnest effort made to not make them again.

Pretending that the images never aired, nor offering an apology is not in alignment with the higher standards that the public has every right to expect from one granted a television license.

And so it goes.

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