This was originally posted Friday, April 28, 2017 by Rodney Hofirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Veteran 11Alive reporter Valerie Hoff resigned today two weeks after she jokingly used the N-word – the version with an “a” at the end of it – in a private message to a black man on Twitter that he publicized.
“I was quoting something the gentleman said in a public tweet back to him in a private message but that doesn’t make it any less offensive,” Hoff wrote me in an exclusive message. “It was incredibly stupid and reckless. I was in the middle of a pressure-filled day trying to chase down the video of a man being beaten and kicked by two Gwinnett police officers, which this particular gentleman had posted on twitter. I repeatedly apologized and continue to do so. I also offered to resign immediately.”
Her boss John Deushane offered this message: “11Alive does not tolerate any form of racial insensitivity and aggressively enforces our standard policies. We acted promptly to address this situation. Valerie Hoff has chosen to resign and apologizes for her actions.11Alive is committed to treating the communities we serve with dignity and respect.”
“I look forward to being a stay-at-home mom,” Hoff added, “and working on my Food and Travel Blog, ValerieHoff.com this summer.”
Let me go over what happened on April 13:
The man, who identified himself to me as Curtis Rivers, had posted a video of a white police officer punching a black motorist on his @curtfromdablock Twitter feed. Hoff was trying to get permission to use it for a breaking news story. On Twitter, Rivers had noted publicly that a lot of “news n***as” were trying to track him down for the video. (It’s a word he uses a lot on this Twitter feed.)
In response to a private direct message, Hoff called herself one of those “news n****s.” At first, he wrote “LMFAOO” but when he realized she was a white woman, he wondered if she was calling him that word. She explained she was referring to herself and quickly apologized.
As a given in this day and age, a non-black person using the N-word – even in its more casual usage – tends to be a no no in polite society no matter what the context.
Rivers said when he figured out she was not black, he became offended. “I just think it wasn’t right for her to use that word in regards to a person who is African American on herself or use the word period for that matter,” he wrote me.
In his mind, “if she is bold enough to say it to me being an African American then I’m pretty sure this isn’t the first time she has used that word.”
Despite the apology, he publicized the DMed messages on his Twitter feed and some folks complained about her usage. For example:
Here are the texts that Rivers sent me between Hoff and Rivers. Note: this does not show the actual start of the message chain so it’s a little out of context:
Rivers did take down the DM exchange above from his public feed, but such things don’t disappear completely on the Web and kept pinging around.
The station at first placed her on a two-week suspension. But when FTVlive posted a story today and they heard I was fishing around, both sides agreed it was time to separate.
Rivers, before she resigned, wrote that he thought Hoff should be fired. “I honestly don’t want anyone to lose their job but if you’re representing your company and not just yourself, then yes I do,” he wrote.
On Saturday, he responded to the news with this: “I feel like she had no other choice and she was probably asked to do so.”
Hoff has been in an Emmy-winning reporter and anchor. She worked at 11Alive going back to 1999 after eight years at CNN.
“Consumer news and the Court System are my areas of expertise but I’m a quick study on just about any topic. I enjoy anchoring, especially in fluid, unscripted situations such as breaking news,” she wrote in her Linkedin page.