A North Dakota newscaster who uttered a profanity to begin his debut as anchor has been fired, but online support for the young newsman continues to grow as the clip goes viral.
A.J. Clemente made his debut as co-anchor for Bismarck NBC affiliate KFYR on Sunday, but the West Virginia University graduate was seemingly unaware his microphone was on as colleague Van Tieu began the newscast.
“F------ s---,” Clemente said seconds after Tieu kicked off the broadcast and mumbled incoherently. He later stammered through introducing himself at the station.
“Ummm, thanks Van, I’m very excited,” he said. “I graduated from West Virginia University and I’m used to, um, you know, from being, from in the East Coast.”
Clemente then reports on a fatal ATV crash in Williams County. He later summarized his performance on Twitter.
“That couldn’t have gone any worse!” he wrote.
Clemente did not join Tieu for the following newscast and was initially suspended, according to a post on the station’s Facebook page. He was later fired, according to his Twitter account.
“He did not realize his microphone was on, but still, that's no excuse,” said KFYR-TV news director Monica Hannan. “We train our reporters to always assume that any microphone is live at any time. Unfortunately, that was not enough in this case. We can't take back what was said. The person involved has been suspended until we resolve the situation. All we can do at this point is ask for your forgiveness, and I can offer my personal assurance that I will do my best to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again under my watch.”
Clemente, who briefly erased his Twitter account late Sunday, later thanked viewers for supporting him through the “tough” debut.
"Unfortunately KFYRTV has decided to let me go," Clemente wrote. "Thank you to them and everyone in ND for the opportunity and everyone for the support."
Clemente, who declined to comment when reached by FoxNews.com, characterized the slip as a "rookie mistake" in a Twitter message posted Monday.
"I'm a free agent," Clemente wrote. "Cant help but laugh at myself and stay positive. Wish i didnt trip over my 'Freaking Shoes' out of the gate."
Prior to Clemente's announcement that he had been fired, many fans on the station’s Facebook page pleaded with management not to terminate the young newscaster.
“While this is definitely spreading across the country, please consider not firing him,” one posting read. “The kid screwed up big time, but he shouldn't have to have his early career ruined because of it, especially after moving all the way to North Dakota from West Virginia.”
Another user wrote: “I really don't think suspension is going to help anything. The kid is super green, and he needs practice more than anything. If you yank him off the air immediately, that's going to create a huge obstacle for him to climb. You hired him. He needs to know he has the support of his station when he makes a mistake. Not to have the carpet pulled out beneath him. Get him back on the air, so he can learn from this and get better.”