Joke about Kenny Chesney fans gets black reporter pulled from George Floyd coverage: reports

A black reporter in Pennsylvania was reportedly removed from covering George Floyd protests over a joke she posted on Twitter about fans of country music star Kenny Chesney.

The tweet suggested that the reporter showed “bias,” her employer, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, reportedly determined.

“Horrifying scenes and aftermath from selfish LOOTERS who don’t care about this city!!!!!” reporter Alexis Johnson tweeted Sunday, along with several photos of trash in a parking lot.

“.... oh wait sorry," she added. "No, these are pictures from a Kenny Chesney concert tailgate. Whoops.”

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The tweet was meant to sarcastically compare the mess and trash left behind from concert tailgating to the aftermath of looting and vandalism, such as that following some peaceful protests over the last week after George Floyd, a restrained black man, died May 25 while in police custody in Minneapolis.

The Post-Gazette management told Johnson her tweet “showed bias and as such, [she] could no longer cover anything related to the protests of the police murder of George Floyd and the systemic racism that for too long has been a dirty segment of our national fabric,” the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh said in a letter about the incident, according to the Pittsburgh City Paper.

The newspaper union said it was “appalled” by the paper’s decision and demanded that Johnson be returned to protest coverage.

The guild told the City Paper it met with Post-Gazette officials and were told to “file your grievance.”

The guild blamed the paper’s management, saying “in previous administrations at the [Post-Gazette], this never would have happened.”

Post-Gazette Managing Editor Karen Kane told the City Paper she can’t comment on the situation.

“In my view, there are no two ways of looking at racism. It is wrong,” said guild President Mike Fuoco, a Post-Gazette reporter for 30 years.“The fact that the company thinks her tweeting disqualifies her is disingenuous. She has more understanding about it being a Black woman than other white reporters and photographers.”

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Fuoco called Johnson’s tweet “food for thought.”

Separately, Variety magazine editor-in-chief Claudia Eller, who is white, will be taking a two-month administrative absence after referring to a Asian former employee of another publication as “bitter” during a heated Twitter exchange.

Eller had been challenged about an article she wrote and posted about vowing to increase diversity at Variety, according to Deadline.