Dietz: Joke about black reporter led to separation from WDIV-TV
Longtime local broadcast reporter Kevin Dietz has left WDIV-TV after 26 years at the station after a comment about a black reporter, according to his social media post.
Dietz, who worked for WDIV-TV (Channel 4), said his "decision to leave" the station was prompted by a recent incident at an investigative reporters conference in Houston.
Marla Drutz, WDIV-TV's vice president and general manager, said in an email that Dietz's resignation was effective Monday.
"We have had a long relationship with Kevin, and these types of decisions are never easy," she said. "Personnel issues such as this are respectfully private and we will have no further comment."
On Facebook, Dietz wrote: "While attending a social event during the conference, we took a WDIV team photo and I jokingly said to the group, 'We are probably going to have to crop the black reporter out of the photo.' The intent of my comment was to openly acknowledge, amongst team members, the challenge it’s been for our company, and many companies, to achieve diversity goals.
"This is a serious subject that I approached through humor. Nevertheless, the station has a zero tolerance policy on racially insensitive comments and they determined, despite the intent and context of my statement, that it violated the policy. I understand and support the need for such policies."
Dietz said the black reporter in the photo "was not offended."
"The African American reporter went to human resources to defend me. He expressed that we are friends, conveyed to them all the help I have given him throughout his career, and the long list of stories I have done on television fighting against racism in Michigan."
Dietz apologized in the post "to anyone I might have offended" and said he soon would begin "the first day of the rest of my professional career."
He did not indicate what his next move would be.
In his comments, Dietz said: "It is important to include the fact that alcohol was provided at this event and, according to management, was a factor in my termination." In 2013, Dietz was convicted of violating Michigan's "super drunk" driving law.
According to the Michigan Secretary of State, Dietz was arrested by Bloomfield Hills police Feb. 12, 2013, for operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of 0.17 or more and refused to take a breathalyzer test. His license was suspended.
He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 days in jail. He also was ordered to pay $1,725 in fines, attend a victim impact panel, outpatient treatment and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
This is the second time in four years an on-air personality for WDIV-TV left the station after a racial remark.
In November 2016, WDIV-TV reporter Lauren Podell resigned from the station a day after a news conference in which Detroit political consultant Sam Riddle and the Rev. W.J. Rideout called for an apology from the station, saying Podell allegedly using a racial slur while off-air that year.