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Mike Creger, Forum Communications, Published August 06 2012

Duluth TV news director resigns after Facebook incident

DULUTH, Minn. - The news director for Duluth television station Fox 21 resigned Monday following objections to what was called a racist Facebook post he made last week.

Fox 21 general manager Jackie Bruenjes issued a statement Monday night saying she accepted Jason Vincent’s resignation.

“Jason has elected to take a new job assignment,” she said.

Attempts by the Duluth News Tribune to reach Vincent and Bruenjes were unsuccessful. It wasn’t clear if Vincent resigned from his position or if he also left the company, Red River Broadcast Co., based in Fargo.

“We wish Jason the best,” Bruenjes wrote in the last line of a three-sentence statement.

Bruenjes previously issued a statement Friday as word spread via social media about comments Vincent made on Facebook about a stranger he found in his yard Wednesday night: “Add drunk, homeless, Native American man to the list of animals that have wandered into my yard.”

“Jason Vincent has apologized for making his statement on Facebook,” Bruenjes said last week, adding that Vincent was on vacation when he made the post on his personal Facebook page. “We here at KQDS Fox 21 TV do not condone this behavior. … We are truly sorry this incident occurred.”

Screen grabs of Vincent’s status circulated on social media Thursday, including a post on the Fond du Lac People’s Forum on Facebook that drew more than 130 comments. Vincent made a public apology on Facebook, which was briefly posted on Fox 21’s Facebook page. In the apology, he said that he also had personally contacted some of the people who were offended by the post.

Vincent’s original post prompted a joint statement from Duluth’s American Indian Commission and the Human Rights Commission, who called for an on-air apology and asked that the station’s staff attend an educational workshop on racism.

Rickie Defoe from the American Indian Commission said Vincent did the right thing by resigning but worried that an opportunity for some dialogue about institutional racism is now lost.

“It’s sad because there’s no recourse for trainings,” Defoe said. “It’s sad because they still harbor those same thoughts and racial attitudes.”

The incident shows what many in minority communities already know when it comes to biased attitudes from the white majority, he said.

“These things are real,” Defoe said.

Vincent had been news director at Fox 21 since 2010. He started his news career as an anchor at KEYC-TV in Mankato, Minn. Before coming to Fox 21, he was an anchor and reporter for WDAY-TV in Fargo.