A Pittsburgh TV station has fired an employee after the station identified football star Tom Brady as a “known cheater” during a Monday broadcast.
The label ran on-screen during a news report about Brady at the end of CBS affiliate KDKA’s 4 pm. news broadcast. The “known cheater” barb was briefly featured just below Brady in the chyron. Screenshots of the incident whipped across social media with much chuckling on Wednesday.
“While fans are entitled to have personal opinions, we have a journalistic responsibility to provide unbiased reporting,” KDKA told Sports Illustrated. “The graphic that appeared Monday violated our news standards. The individual who created the graphic no longer works for KDKA-TV.”
While KDKA did not identify the employee, an unverified Twitter account belonging to a user going by the name Michael Telek — who is identified on the account as a news producer — tweeted Wednesday, “Hi there, I got fired for this joke. I just bought a house so that is putting a pinch on things. Once I land a job there will be a GOAT Giveaway where I will donate the money to charity in Tom Brady’s name.”
Hi there, I got fired for this joke. I just bought a house so that is putting a pinch on things. Once I land a job there will be a GOAT Giveaway where I will donate the money to charity in Tom Brady’s name.https://t.co/KzXhpbuOpF
– Michael Telek (@mktelek) January 30, 2019
The account and a rep for KDKA did not immediately respond to requests for comment from TheWrap. The employee did manage to find a groundswell of support for the move online, however, in the form of numerous sympathetic tweets and even a GoFundMe which has so far raised more than $600.
“Michael is a great guy. He is smart, hard-working, and would go out of his way to help anyone,” wrote organizer Connor Trushel. “He has just bought a house and with no job and bills to pay, he needs some help till he is back on his feet. Mainly, I just wanna bring awareness to the man behind the harmless photo.”
Brady, a legendary football quarterback for the New England Patriots, has won five Super Bowls over the course of his career. The “known cheater” chyron apparently relates to a specific incident in the 2014-2015 season when Brady and the Patriots were accused of giving themselves an unfair edge by deflating several footballs during a game with the Indianapolis Colts. The resulting imbroglio — thereafter known as “Deflategate” — led to a four-game suspension for Brady and a $1 million fine for the Patriots.
And though Brady has consistently denied any wrongdoing, it’s clear that a certain segment of football fans have not forgotten.