Emmy-winning Univision host?Rodner Figueroa was fired earlier this week for disparaging comments he made about First Lady Michelle Obama on the air.
During his segment on the entertainment news show?”El Gordo y La Flaca,” Figueroa remarked:
“Mind you, you know that Michelle Obama looks like she’s part of the cast of ‘Planet of the Apes,’ the film.”
Shortly after Univision severed its ties with Figueroa, it issued a statement saying:
“Yesterday during the entertainment show ‘El Gordo y La Flaca,’ Rodner Figueroa made comments about First Lady Michelle Obama that were completely reprehensible and in no way reflect the values or opinions of Univision. As a result, Mr. Figueroa was fired immediately.”
For his part, Figueroa apologized to the First Lady in a long open letter, but also said his comments had been taken out of context:
“I offer my sincere apology for an unfortunate comment I made about a make-up artist’s depiction of you on Univision’s show ‘El Gordo y La Flaca’ yesterday. It was clearly in bad taste and misunderstood.?I would like to explain that my remark was not directed at you, but at the result of an artist’s depiction of you that I found wasn’t accurate. The entire video clip in context corroborates this.”
This is not the first time Univision has gotten into hot water for controversial comments or actions by its on-air talent. In 2010, during the World Cup in South Africa, the Spanish-language network aired a video segment in which the hosts were shown wearing Afro wigs and carrying spears. Univision apologized for the incident.
I cannot help but wonder, however, what would possibly prompt anyone to make such a blatantly racist comment, whether he was commenting on how an artist depicted a person or if he intended it as a direct criticism of the person’s appearance. As my father told me on more than one occasion: “Always think long and hard before you speak. That way you don’t wind up having to spend most of your life apologizing.”