Barbie Bassett’s bio has been removed from the WLBT website, where all of the on-air bios are located.
WLBT officials did not return phone calls, emails or texts related to Bassett’s status. In a message via social media, WLBT Vice President and General Manager Ted Fortenberry said, “As I am sure you can understand, WLBT is unable to comment on personnel matters.”
On-air employees declined to comment, directing all questions to management. Bassett did not respond to direct messages on Twitter, Facebook and her personal website.
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“Last Friday on our newscast ‘Today at 11’, I used a term that was offensive to many in our audience and to my coworkers here at WLBT. Though not intentional, I now understand how my comment was both insensitive and hurtful,” Bassett said at the time. “I have apologized to Carmen Poe.
“Now, I would like to apologize to you. That is not the heart of who I am. And for that, I humbly ask for your forgiveness, and I apologize to everyone I have offended. I will learn from this and participate in training so I can better understand our history and our people. I can’t mend the hurt my comment caused. I pray you’ll forgive me and that you’ll extend grace through this awful mistake.”
The latest incident is reported to have occurred in early March. She has not appeared on WLBT since March 8, and she has removed any mention of WLBT from her Facebook page.
WLBT has also made no public comment on the matter.
The latest comments on air were in reference to a story about Snoop Dogg’s latest business venture, Snoop Cali Blanc, his fourth wine in his successful Cali Wine Collection. In crosstalk between the anchors after the news portion of the segment was completed, Bassett, who is white, repeated a famous Snoop slang saying, “Fo shizzle, my (expletive).” The last part of the lyric referenced a racial epithet for Black people.
Bassett graduated from Mississippi College and earned a Master of Science degree from Mississippi State University with a concentration in broadcast meteorology. Bassett earned the Seal of Approval from the American Meteorological Society and has been awarded “Best Weathercast” by the Associated Press several times.
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She was WLBT’s first chief meteorologist in its 50+ year history. Bassett has also been an opera singer, ventriloquist, pianist and model.
Social media comments have been mixed on Bassett’s departure, with some saying the station overreacted and others highly critical of Bassett’s comments.
With 51,000 followers on Facebook and nearly 16,000 followers on Twitter, Bassett is a frequent commenter on social media, but she has not updated her Facebook page since March 8. In one of those posts, Bassett says she solicits comments and tries to respond to every comment she gets. Several commented on the March 8 incident, but Bassett did not respond to those comments.
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