KTLA fired news anchor Mark Meester on Thursday afternoon after he was suspended after an off-script segment in which he described the station’s operations following the sudden departure of his co-anchor Lynette Romero, according to several station employees. was criticized.
The station’s general manager, Jeanne Drafts, announced the firing during a meeting in the newsroom at around 1:15 p.m. with a brief speech, “[Mester] No longer in KTLA5,” staff present for the announcement told The Times on Thursday.
KTLA website no longer lists Meester on its roster of journalists and anchors.
Last week, KTLA announced that Romero, a longtime anchor of its popular weekend morning show, had station left Without saying goodbye to the audience, there was widespread outrage and criticism.
“After nearly 24 years, Lynette Romero, our friend Lynette, has decided to stop anchoring our weekend morning news stories,” the station’s news director Pete Sayers wrote in a statement. during a September 14 segment,
“KTLA management expected her to be here throughout her career, and KTLA has worked hard to make that happen,” Rubin said. “But Lynette has decided to go elsewhere for a second chance. Lynette, we wish you the best, we miss you and thank you for everything you have done for KTLA. … HERE On behalf of everyone, we wish you and your family all the best, but best wishes.”
Sayers later said that management expected Romero to record a farewell message for the audience, but he declined.
According to station sources, who asked to remain anonymous, Romero no longer wanted to work weekends and had asked management to allow him to work the one-week anchor shift so he could spend more time with his family. , but he was told there was no opening. Sources said she has reportedly been hired as an NBC affiliate of KNBC, LA, as its one-week morning show anchor.
Romero did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Times.
During Saturday’s weekend morning show, Meester, Romero’s co-anchor, went Off script with emotional speech, He apologized to viewers on behalf of the station, saying that dealing with Romero’s exit was “harsh, it was cruel, it was unfair and we are very sorry.”
Then he apologized to Romero, whom he called “His best friend.”
“You didn’t deserve it, it was a mistake, and we hope you can find it in your heart to forgive us,” said Meester, his voice hoarse at times, in a monologue that echoes his Lasted more than four minutes with three partners. ,
Meester’s ad-free message was appreciated by many viewers, but shortly after Romero’s defense, Meester was suspendedThere was even more criticism of how the KTLA handled the situation.
“Mark was 100% right,” One user tweeted. “It’s like you guys are begging to lose all your audience with this kind of behavior.”
However, newsroom employees described a different scenario, saying that Meester, who joined KTLA in 2014, had violated their trust.
Employees said that the producers had written a script for Meester to read to send Romero off, including photographs and clips of his broadcast, which Meester ignored during the segment. He also hired a plane with a banner to fly over the station with the message “We love you Lynette.” Meester pitched the producers to include footage of the aircraft in this section, but this was rejected.
Employees said they saw Meester angrily swaying back and forth before stepping onto the set for the Saturday segment. it was with him Alerted your social media followers that he was planning to address Romero’s departure on that morning show.
After his segment, people in the newsroom said, they noticed Meester ignored management’s requests to step into his office for a meeting. At one point, several employees told Meester, a news director, to “shut up” and that he refused to leave the building after being asked to do so.
During exchanges with management, Meester allegedly made obscene words that could be overheard by other employees in the newsroom.
Meester did not immediately respond to the Times’ requests for comment on Thursday.
Multiple sources at the station said it was common knowledge that staff were concerned about Meester’s anger and what was described as his “abusive” behavior towards women and that they had complained to management.
“You wouldn’t believe the temper tantrums and the weird things that bother her,” said a longtime newsroom employee. “You’re constantly afraid that you’re going to say the wrong thing.”
A longtime anchor at the station said he expected viewers to judge Romero’s choice of Meester’s behavior, which he called “unprofessional” and “reckless”.
“It had to be shown over a script that was warm, loving and appreciative. it was awesome, and [Romero] He would have loved it,” the anchor said about the goodbye piece that the makers had prepared. “Mark kidnapped her and made it about.”
Veteran journalists at KTLA said it is common for newsroom managers not to give airtime to talent going to a competing station.
“Our industry has a practice of quickly and quietly releasing team members who go to competition,” Ashley Regan, creator of KTLA’s “Weekend Morning News” show, said. written in a statement Posted on Twitter after Meester’s outbreak. “We may not love the exercise, but we know not to take it personally.”
Romero joined KTLA in 1998 and won several local Emmy Awards, including one in 2006 for his reporting on the Latino community. She was a co-anchor of “KTLA Prime-News” and later co-anchor of “KTLA Weekend Morning News”, which has been one of the most-watched weekend morning news shows in Southern California.
For years, she co-anchored with Chris Burruss, who died in 2018 From a methamphetamine overdose. Since then, Romero has led the show with Meester.
Romero has kept a low profile on social media since his exit from KTLA, but he addressed fans on September 14.
I will always be grateful for the love and affection the LA audience has given me. she tweeted, “Stay with my friends, I’ll be back now.”
On 17 September, Romero expressed his gratitude and shared a tweet From former CBS “The Talk” co-host actor Holly Robinson Peet, who was fired after just one season on the daytime talk show in 2011.
Responding to Romero’s tweet, Pete replied, “As someone who didn’t get a proper goodbye or even acknowledgment of my departure many years ago,” I feel disrespected. And wish you totally can’t wait to see what’s next! ,