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.
“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!”
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.