Madison’s WMTV Responds To Racist Chief Wahoo Mascot Airing Twice On Sports Report

Over the past week, I have posted twice about Madison’s WMTV sports report where an anchor was standing in front of a screen with the Brewers spelled out but with the racist Chief Wahoo mascot used to represent the Cleveland Indians. The team itself retired this graphic years ago because of its stereotypical and minstrel show-like features.

A reader had complained to the station, did not get a reply, and then contacted the FCC. Throughout the process, he contacted me and hoped this little place on the internet might highlight the issue. Having my mom’s family tree extending back to Cherokee Chief John Ross and the Trail of Tears meant the request was met with absolute acceptance.

This week WMTV did respond to the Madison viewer.

Good evening, Rick. I apologize that we did not acknowledge that you reached out to us earlier this month. I should’ve done so as the newsroom manager.

Our weekend on-call news manager for Sept. 11-12th alerted the newsroom (and sports team) to the error; and I followed up with our team when I was back in the office that Monday (I had been traveling over the weekend). In my follow-up, I learned this error of showing the old logo was isolated to the 9 and 10 p.m. sportscasts on the 11th. During that series of play between the two teams, the correct logo aired on Friday and also Sunday.

The person who made the mistake regrets doing so and understands the impact. So do I. I expect better. We understand that the images we use are as meaningful and important as the words we choose in our storytelling. We want to get it right and strive to do so.

We’ve taken steps to purge this particular graphic from our system, so it isn’t used again. We’ve also used this time to double check other team logos—and I can confirm we did not have the old Braves, Redskins or Illini logos in our system.

I appreciate your viewership and that you took the time to write us. I apologize again for not getting back to you… and I apologize also that the old logo was used.

Jessica Laszewski

News Director