In the history of first days on the job, A.J. Clemente’s won’t soon be forgotten.
The newly-hired anchor for North Dakota NBC affiliate KFYR was fired Monday, one day after opening his first day on the air with a string of bleeped words when he didn’t realize his microphone was on.
Clemente let loose with his choice words, including an f-bomb, on-air Sunday night just as his now former co-anchor, Van Tieu, introduced him to viewers as the station’s new weekend anchor. Tieu tried to redeem the segment by allowing Clemente to introduce himself to viewers, but that failed also as Clemente struggled to string his biography together.
“That couldn’t have gone any worse!” Clemente tweeted afterward, acknowledging his rookie mistake of rehearsing his material without realizing his microphone was on.
Things did get worse for Clemente, however, when, just hours later, the station fired him.
“Rest assured something like this will never happen again,” Tieu told viewers in an on-air apology.
Clemente’s gaffe quickly made him an Internet star.
While Clemente’s clip was replayed over and over across social media sites, it also garnered him some 21st century-style sympathy. Just as quickly as he’d been fired, hashtags including #KeepAJ, #FreeAJ and #TeamAJ sprung up on Twitter.
“Rookie mistake. I’m a free agent. Cant help but laugh at myself and stay positive.Wish i didnt trip over my “Freaking Shoes” out of the gate,” Clemente himself tweeted Monday.
On the KFYR-TV Facebook page, where the station’s news director posted an apology to viewers Sunday night, more than 1,500 people wrote in, most asking the station to reconsider their decision.
“The kid screwed up big time, but he shouldn’t have to have his early career ruined because of it, especially after moving all the way to North Dakota from West Virginia,” wrote one user.
“The news itself is way more offensive than AJ’s language,” wrote another, adding “#FreeAJ.”