muckraker report

Fox 2 reporter Charlie LeDuff offends Detroiters with TV spoof about deceased Mayor Coleman A. Young

When Charlie LeDuff gave up his Pulitzer Prize-winning career as a newspaper reporter, the Detroit native became a household name on Fox 2 News, blending dogged reporting with his quirky, spontaneous personality.

Now many Detroiters are saying LeDuff went too far in a segment that aired Friday, and some are calling for his termination.

A source at Fox 2 News said the station has been flooded with complaints after LeDuff interviewed an image of deceased former Mayor Coleman A. Young, the city’s first black mayor. Young’s mouth was replaced with exaggerated lips and buck teeth from Steve Hood, a political analyst for Fox 2.

To many, the image reminded them of the offensive black face.

“I am profoundly offended!” one person complained to Fox 2. “This is a total disrespect to the deceased former Mayor. How in the world did something so dehumanizing and small minded make its way to public viewing? Shame on you folks at FOX 2! You just lost my respect”

Despite a barrage of complaints, the segment was given the most prominent spot on Fox 2’s website for three days.

LeDuff’s response?

“God you all need to relax,” he said.

Viewers also were upset over the handling of Young, a civil rights hero to many Detroiters.

During the mock interview, Young said the city’s problems could be solved by luring white people back to the city.

“You’ve got to open your doors to new people. You gotta let the white people in, but not just downtown. You got to put them 0ut in the neighborhoods. There are a lot of great neighborhoods in Detroit.”

Young also admonished many black Detroiters from straying from the fight for equality

“It was all about black power,” Young said of his days. “Now it just seems to be about black money in the pocket.”

As LeDuff ended the interview, Young responded, “Aloha, Mother Fucker.”

“This was in poor taste,” one reader wrote on Fox 2’s site. “I understand that Charlie respects no sacred cows and white suburbanites have no respect for Detroiters at all. But please, let Mayor young rest in respect. Many suburban cities are in financial trouble, but their respected leaders aren’t under attack. Fox 2, you show Detroit the respect that a dog would show a corpse. But, we are not dead yet.”

Facebook also was flooded with complaints.

“Definitely a SLAP in the face toward our HISTORY, and STRUGGLE. This CLOWN is getting FAMOUS off of our struggles….He needs to be STOPPED!”

Fox 2 News Headlines

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

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  • Saadiq Muhammad

    My opinion is that Le Duff is an ambulance chaser but it depends on which ambulance Fox News wants him to chase! Kwame, Godbee, DPD, etc. but uses kitten gloves on Anne Hathaway, or Fleming at Detroit News affair with State Treasurer Andy Dillion’s wife. Hood is a modern day minstrel that allows Fox to pimp slap him around on Let it Rip just to have his face on TV. Shame, have some respect for yourself! I don’t care if they apologize it doesn’t change the thoughts and feelings of someone! Le Duff is just expressing the closet feelings of most people about Detroit and its history.

  • Henry Payne

    “Offensive black face?” Huh? Young’s “mouth” in the spoof is Steve Hood, a black Detroit political conultant. LeDuff’s boss is Huel Perkins, Fox 2’s prominent black anchor. The pol mouth gag goes back to Conan O’Brien’s spoofs of Guv Arnold Schwarzenegger.

  • Eric

    Hilarious. Coleman Young wanting more white people

  • Truthe Seeker

    Coleman Young was the Most corrupt Mayor in Detroit’s black historical record. His Police Department was ultra corrupt as well. Drug dealers has police escorts and the Mayor’s family members were deeply involved in the drug trade.
    Wake up people!!! He was a crook.!.

    The next Mayor must be a righteous and socially conscious individual that cannot be bought nor bribed. This person must be a powerful leader of teams, departments, and have a grand vision for Detroit. Anything less would be atrocious.


  • detroitlove

    Another slow day in the muckraker news room, trying to make something out of nothing. Waste of time trying to turn this into something that its not….

  • cattgirl0813

    This really aired? Wow…how disappointing. I mean, I knew Mr. LeDuff had a love of over the top sensationalism, Mr. Hood had a love a bombast, and that Fox 2 cared more about the sensationalism than they did about journalistic integrity, but they all went too far with this. Mr. LeDuff, Mr. Hood, and the management at Fox 2 should be ashamed for producing and airing this segment.

    The worst part of it all is that there is a lot of truth in what was said. We do need to be more open and more diverse in this city. Too many of my fellow Detroiters have allowed “I’m black and I’m proud” devolve into a “I gotta get mine…stop snitching…thug life” mentality. Unfortunately, the way Mr. LeDuff, Mr. Hood, and the Fox 2 management chose to deliver this message was tasteless and disrespectful.

    Here’s hoping that Mr. LeDuff, Mr. Hood, and Fox 2’s station manager issue an apology and pledge to focus more on telling the truth about the city – even when it hurts – without being hurtful or too seduced by the taint of sensationalism.

    It will never happen, but I can hope it will, just like I hope the “I gotta get mine…stop snitching…thug life” mentality doesn’t completely kill what’s left of Detroit.

  • Tom Barrow

    When I finally read Charlie LeDuffs mock interview of our Mayor Young, my heart sank and I became saddened. I had always held Charlie in high regard for his “take no prisoners” style stories. Unfortunately, his mock interview sadly only affirmed what many Detroiters, right or wrongfully, feel is the hatred and disdain for our city and its people. Charlie, to us, affirmed a wrongful hatred of Detroiters so sadly portrayed by a few non-Detroiters who still harbor outdated hostility towards to what seems to be people of color and its leadership because it is was their own choice.

    In 1989 when I challenged Mayor Young, I did so with the deepest respect never allowing myself to be goaded because I just believed it was time. Frankly, I miss the mayor’s spirit and the pride which he instilled in me and the hope he gave to me and which excited me to pass the 1973 CPA exam and start my then small Black CPA firm business. Charlie, you denigrated our mayor’s goodness and his spirit and I am saddened by it!

    Finally, Charlie should acknowledge the mistake, apologize to the people who were offended as even your “Lighten Up’ responsive comment indicates a lack of understanding of why we as Detroiters, were offended. To not apologize, will cause you your own loss of respect as Detroiters will likely never see you in the same light. It was a mistake Charlie, an error…acknowledge it and Detroiters will forgive you.

    • Alan Stamm

      Very well-said, Mr. Barrow.

      If Charlie seemed more sensible and less of a showman, I’d think your scenario might have a chance of coming to pass. But, alas . . .

  • Mac Farr

    This wasn’t nearly as entertaining as Coleman Young would have been. Had this actually been Co, he would probably have challenged LeDuff to a boxing match in Campus Martius or something.

  • IndieSimone
  • Alan Stamm

    Not every creative brainstorm is worth trying or airing — a truism that’s especially applicable to a high-velocity, landscape-ripping tornado like Charlie.

    That’s why copywriters, creative directors, designers, authors and journalists typically collaborate with an editor, producer or gatekeeper of some kind. Fortunate ones develop a relationship of mutual respect and frank feedback.

    It’s not hard to imagine that Charlie, a well-paid bigfoot with strong rating numbers, is virtually untouchable. He’s a franchise player, much in the way of Albom, Waldmeir or the late Joe Falls . . . allowed to run virtually without reins.

    When he’s good, he’s very, very. And when he’s not, this happens.

    Won’t be the last time, his “you all need to relax” shrug-off suggests.

    • cattgirl0813

      Well said. I was thinking the same thing…what station manager would allow something like this to air? Then I remembered it’s Fox 2, home of “The Edge,” and “Let It Rip,” two examples of lowest common denominator yelling and posturing passed off as news. We should brace ourselves, because this won’t be the last time we see something like this on local news. It’s probably just the beginning.

      Somewhere, Paddy Chayefsky is looking down on us, shaking his head and saying, “I tried to warn you….”

  • Tim

    Would the displeased viewers have preferred the spoof ending with Coleman Young proclaiming he was the “Head Nigger In Charge”?

  • Mr. L. Lyle

    Nothing offensive there,just a friendly little advice from ‘his honor’ lol