Free Press apologizes after reporter jokes about incest in West Virginia

Zlati Meyer
Zlati Meyer

Nothing seems to unleash people’s carnal outrage quite like an ill-conceived joke on Twitter.

Detroit Free Press reporter Zlati Meyer learned that the tough way Monday night after she tweeted that West Virginia should deal with its incest problem.

“#WestVirginia has its tainted water problem under ctrl. Now, it can work on incest,” she tweeted, referring to a chemical spill that had contaminated tap water for 300,000 residents.

There was no undoing it. By the time Meyer removed the tweet, it had gone viral. She and the Free Press apologized, but that didn’t quell the onslaught of attacks – even death threats.

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What Meyer tweeted was indefensible, and she knows that and acknowledged it. But what’s perplexing is the malignity and viciousness behind the attacks.

I worked with Meyer at the Free Press for six years, and she was anything but intolerant or bigoted. She’s an enthusiastic and insatiably curious reporter who bursts with compassion and zeal. And she has an abrupt, self-referential sense of humor. Only this time her joke fell flat – and she’s paying for it with thousands of tweets from offended West Virginians.

It’s a stark reminder that in this digital age, we can’t take back our stupid comments. But we should also remember that our stupid comments don’t always reflect who we are.

We make mistakes; we apologize; we move on.

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.

  • squid muffin

    Did anyone else notice something similar between all of those reply tweets? All males… talking about murder, calling her a whore & a bitch. To me, that is even MORE offensive than what she said, and at least her remark was a damn joke. Pull the stick out of your ass, people. Quit being so damn sensitive and resorting to threatening murder when you can just take a deep breath and calm down.

  • Pay_It_Forward

    It was not a subject that by any stretch of the imagination one could find humor in. And in some instances the thought of this act may be akin to an act between an adult and a child. Each of us will see this differently, and not associate the physical act the it portrays in some cases.

  • misterelrick

    Zlati is not only a sweetheart, she’s a caring and hilarious reporter. So she made a bad joke. Get over it already! If she’s guilty of any sin, it’s that the joke wasn’t that funny — and certainly wasn’t original.

  • Mary

    Was it an error in judgement? More likely she was exposing her true self. I do not know her personally, but typically when people use social media to make rude and offensive comments it’s because they have a poor self image and are trying desperately to find someone to give them some attention.

  • Kaylee Kochanski

    Oh, because no one else has ever said anything controversial? People are too damn sensitive. Everyone in this country jokes about the Appalachian area being inbred. She’s not even famous. She’s a local reporter. I have authors and whatnot on my Twitter who make snarky remarks like that based on current events or whatnot, but no one’s sending them death threats. And even if what she said is “politically incorrect,” how does that justify the disgusting things the people who responded to her said? She may’ve made an err in judgement, but she isn’t hateful and cruel like those people. I’m tired of people being mean an hateful just because they can say whatever via social media. You shouldn’t wish those things on someone just because they made a comment about a stereotype. I can’t stand people. Get over it.

    • Greg Thrasher

      Your rant is out of order ..Stop being her apologist and publicist…Media types have no problem going after people for a story they run over children and stick cameras and microphones in the folks faces after they have lost loved ones…. She is a big girl stop being her guardian….Of course I do agree with you that we are truly a raw and depraved culture of later Civility is viewed as a weakness…

      • Kaylee Kochanski

        My rant is out of order? How? Because it’s the truth? I’m neither of those things you accused me of being — I’m a reader who was sharing her opinion much like other readers of this blog. I was merely pointing out the fact that people are so damn sensitive to certain things, that said by someone else would be funny, but completely overlook the fact that the government is stealing money from students from the 6% interest rate on student loans. If some stupid overpaid celebrity said anything related to that, it’d have been okay.

        • Greg Thrasher

          Your truth is not another’s truth…I have no idea what else you are posting about ??? What does this issue have to do with student loans???

          • Kaylee Kochanski

            I’m saying, people freak out about the LITTLEST things — ie, this reporter making a simple comment that was, possibly, an err in judgement, and every freaks the eff out — but people don’t get all crazy about real issues. If you can read, my point is pretty clear. You don’t see people on Twitter, Facebook, etc, threatening to kill people, calling them whores (clearly they don’t know the definition), wishing them harm over something serious. Unless, of course, it has something to do with gay marriage or abortion. Then all hell breaks loose. What I said is a fact: people freak out and overreact about the simplest things. If peoples’ truths are different, then you have no right to tell my my rant is “out of order.” Did I come beating your door down telling you you’re out of order for any of your comments? No, I did not. Again, proving my point that people freak out over NOTHING.

          • Kaylee Kochanski

            Oh, and by the way, I was not defending her or condoning what she said. I was more appalled by the fact that people said what they said in response to her. That’s okay though. THAT is was really pissed me off. If that was a kid in school, saying that, posting that to a coworker, they’d be sued/fired/expelled, etc. Goodness, read.

          • Greg Thrasher

            I get it and I agree with bulk of your post but not all of it.. This woman is a reporter she knows exactly what she did and she is not above reproach

          • Kaylee Kochanski

            I never said she shouldn’t be reprimanded. However, people are doing/saying worse and less happens to them. I’m just saying, pick your battles, people. Yes, I realize it’s a public forum and she should know better, blah blah blah.. but what else is out in the world? Things a million times worse than some woman saying something most Americans have probably joked about. The things that’ve come out of celebrities mouths are more astounding and EVERYONE still loves and worships them. Look at what comes out of some politicians’ mouths. But because she’s a woman, and may or may not be liberal, and posted it on her private Twitter, she’s fair game to threaten? She should take that to the cops. THAT is what’s wrong with the world. She can’t say what she wants, but these people responding to her can go off and say what they please? Bullshit.

          • Greg Thrasher

            You are responding ??

          • Mars305

            you sure are… why?? What do you care if she posts her thoughts, you do the same.

  • Greg Thrasher

    According to the divine edit of Steve all is ok since Zlati is a good person and good people never fuck up nor are garden variety bigots and pond scum. Such a nice girl that Zlati but wait Steve’s gotta track down those negroes/colored folks like Cush to save the day…lol,lol,lol,lol

    • Do you mean “edict”?

      • Greg Thrasher

        No I meant ‘edit’ since Steve is the principal journalist / editor for this site /publication .
        Greg Thrasher
        Plane Ideas
        Alternative Think Tank
        Washington DC

        • Dust Buster

          nice save on the “edit” for what its worth i think you were trying to say “edict” which was/is more appropriate grammatically to the point you were trying to make

          • Greg Thrasher

            Yep I anticipated folks like you think they know me but my organization is named Plane Ideas which is a spin on numerous themes in addition ‘edit’ is what am editor does and many consider themselves kings and gods ….
            Please continue the chase…. Lol lol

          • Dust Buster

            you forgot to mention your old catch phrase “body of work” you like that one and it infers you actually produce and have published works. Just because you make up a name. call it a think tank the fact remains you are a figment and you did mean to write “edict” but your fragile psyche dictates that you never admit a mistake. especially when you are talking to a white devil.

            p.s. you should also add navy seal, astronaut or phd after your list of titles.

  • Greg Thrasher

    Zlati will now be forced to cover this: Black apologists in the city seeking to burn Cush at a bonfire probably in Hart Plaza..Zlati will handle all the food interviews within the hungry crowd…

    • What??

      • Greg Thrasher

        Please revisit my post for more humor..Zlati is a joke of a reporter notice I did not call her a journalist … She should be assigned to cover insane and worthless news events from this point forward….I am so tired of inept and underdeveloped media types they have contaminated Detroit for decades and without question the MSM ( Read White Media ) is one of the most racist and divisive forces in our nation ..WTF

        • Dust Buster

          thank you very much for helping defend the msm.

          cordially yours, the staff at msnbc

          • Greg Thrasher

            Your glee is misplaced I have nothing but contempt for all media across all of their platforms from Fox to CNN to MSNBC to WXYZ to Detroit News to Freep etc…

          • Mars305

            What you are is an Ass, with nothing better to do with your time.. You come across as mean and nasty, and I’m sure you don’t care. The hatred that comes across the screen from your keys is unreal. You really should talk to someone professionally. You really seem to have some major issues… Good luck, you need it. Whether you know it or not.

      • Greg Thrasher

        Yep read it again for more humor..Your girl Zlati is a joke of a reporter notice I did not call her a journalist …..

        • I don’t know Zlati. All reporters are journalists, so it doesn’t really matter.

          • Greg Thrasher

            Yes it does revealing that you do not understand the difference nor care yet you are working at a media outlet … WTF
            Please start to publish my commentaries I care and my body of work values substance and quality.
            Greg Thrasher
            Director
            Plane Ideas
            Alternative Think Tank
            Washington DC

          • Greg, we will not be publishing your work.

          • Greg Thrasher

            New
            A

          • Are you just posting nonsense now?

          • What does that mean?

          • Greg, I’ve reviewed your posts on MCM and have come to the conclusion that you are harassing other readers and should no longer have posting privileges on the site. Good luck with your Think Tank.

          • Dust Buster

            oh noooooo not another banning for greg think tank thrasher. i bet he is kicking the footies out of his onesies at the desk of his palatial think tank offices somewhere in dc

    • Smartest OneHere

      Cushingberry is an embarrassment to Detroit. Plane and simple……..

  • Dust Buster

    so sher is most likely a liberal and a jew. but its open season on white people (certain protected species classes non-withstanding. e.g gays, liberals and hollywood racists as long as they are liberals) she wont get fired. she will get to say things like “oh i have a few friends from down south” this is the shift thats increasing. there is clearly a line of demarcation regarding who can offend who and get away with it.

    look at the cadre of “reality” tv they have a new one about down south and it shows all the stereotypical mud bogs, drankin and loose girls. honey boo boo was ok and they even had subtitles so yall could unna-stan dem ret-necks when day talkin. jersey shore was just hillbilly culture with more money and near the ocean. but i promise you you wont see a reality show called “hood-ratz….growin up in the d” or “ghetto fabulous and lovin it in south chicago”

    nope never will see a show mocking and showing the ghetto culture with all black folks. they were going to try and do one a year about about some deadbeat rapper that had a bunch of kids with different women but pressure stopped it. again the old animal farm adage applies. “all animals are equal, some are more equal than others” yep hope and change has moved us so far forward. this story will blow over and she will keep her job (as she should) because conservatives dont have the same infantile demands that she lose her job for saying something mean.

    • misterelrick

      You make me sick.

      • Dust Buster

        its unfortunate that i am the cause of some illness that has visited you. i would offer my sincere sympathies if you were not a hypocrite. deep down my post is right on. its sad but true. many in the media have very leftist and intolerant views. they are usually the ones that stamp their feet and scream the loudest about diversity and acceptance…as long as they get to choose. alec baldwin is a prime example. still has credit card commercials and it took several incidents of racial and gay comments to get the boot from his show.

        his show btw msnbc that is an incubator for racist and intolerant whites and afro-racists like sharpton and that half black female that mocked the romney family for adopting a black child. i can give a million examples but all that typically does when debating someone of your mindset is divert to name calling or bringi9ng up george bush etc. the fact is white hillbillies are ok and open season.

        look at the duck dynasty guy. the left, rainbow bullies and diversity gestapo wanted his head on a stick. this is one time they failed. the family had too much money. they were too valuable for the a&e network…and the kicker the old hillbilly didnt apologize and grovel he told them to shove it…they were very very angry because their foot stomping and demands were not met. so like the spoiled infant they walked away with snot bubbles and tears running down their face .

        im sure the reporter is a nice lady. as you should note i said she should keep her job. but i can promise you if she turned the tables and made a tweet that said “dang was just on belle isle and i have never seen so many you black girls with so many babies…whats up with you black girls and so many babies?” she would have busloads of protesters outside the free press office. all the usual “activists” would have already had her job.

        again i am sorry the cold truth troubles you so.

  • MrSyn

    Very nicely done Zlati. I’m sure you are so much better than those inbred WV hicks, I can just tell by the fact you work for the Free Press and have a Twitter account.