Yahoo! fires news chief over joke

Last updated 19:29 30/08/2012

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Yahoo! News fired its chief political correspondent on Wednesday for an off the cuff remark about Republicans partying "with black people drowning".

David Chalian, the Yahoo! News Washington Bureau Chief, made the comment privately during a webcast of the Republican National convention on Monday in partnership with ABC News, but it was picked up by a live microphone.

With Hurricane Isaac approaching New Orleans as the convention got underway, Chalian was heard saying to an unidentified guest, "Feel free to say, ‘They're not concerned at all. They are happy to have a party with black people drowning'".

The remark was made over video of Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney and his wife Ann, and laughter was heard in the background.

Yahoo! said in statement that Chalian's remark "was inappropriate and does not represent the views of Yahoo!".

"He has been terminated effective immediately. We have already reached out to the Romney campaign, and we apologize to Mitt Romney, his staff, their supporters and anyone who was offended."

Chalian later apologized on his Facebook page for "making an inappropriate and thoughtless joke".

"I was commenting on the challenge of staging a convention during a hurricane and about campaign optics," he said.

Chalian said he had apologized to Romney and that he regretted "causing any distraction from the exceptional coverage of the Republican convention by Yahoo! News and ABC News".

The Republican Party's national convention in Tampa, Florida, was delayed by strong winds and heavy rains as Isaac grew from a tropical storm to a hurricane on its path up the Gulf Coast.

(Reporting By Jill Serjeant in Los Angeles; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Andrew Hay

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