Sports

TSN clarifies 'unclear' support for anchor Kayla Grey, online critic apologizes

TSN says anchor Kayla Grey has the network's full support, and it regrets issuing an "unclear" statement last week after a user on social media engaged in what the network calls "reprehensible attacks on her character."

Network decries 'reprehensible attacks on her character' after criticizing column by white journalist

TSN anchor Kayla Grey criticized the use of language in a column by a white sports journalist on confronting racist attitudes in her family. (Twitter/@Kayla_Grey)

TSN says anchor Kayla Grey has the network's full support, and it regrets issuing an "unclear" statement last week after a user on social media engaged in what the network calls "reprehensible attacks on her character."

Tim McClure, a motivational speaker, also tagged TSN executives and colleagues "in what can only be seen as an attempt to discredit, marginalize, and intimidate her through social media," the network said in its statement Thursday.

TSN said McClure had also reached out to Grey privately, calling it "unwanted contact," and that McClure was expected to make another public statement.

"We wish to make it clear that intimidation tactics will not diminish our faith in Kayla," TSN said. "With Kayla's blessing, TSN has contacted Tim McClure, and advised him to cease contact with our team members."

McClure's tweets were in response to Grey's criticism of the use of the N-word in a column by white sports journalist Sheri Forde on confronting racist attitudes in her family. Forde is married to Duane Forde, a former CFL player and CFL colour analyst for TSN, who is Black.

Many stood by Grey, one of the few Black women in Canadian sports journalism, and criticized the chastising nature of McClure's thread of tweets. KaylaGreyAppreciationDay was trending on Twitter on Saturday.

TSN also said it regretted its "unclear" statement about the McClure tweets from last Friday, which simply stated: "TSN supports the right of all our on-air personalities to express their opinions in a respectful manner."

"We did not express fully and properly our support for Kayla," TSN's statement on Thursday said. "We should have said it simply: Kayla Grey has our full support, and we stand behind her."

McClure, a professional speaker and brand consultant at Tim McClure & Partners, said on Twitter that "comments made by TSN do not accurately reflect the nature of how this matter has transpired" in response to the broadcaster's statement. In his own statement posted Thursday, McClure said: "The gap between intent, perception and acceptance can be very wide at times. I learned that over the past few days.

WATCH | Hal Johnson says inspiration for Body Break was to combat racism: 

Inspiration for fitness show Body Break was to combat racism

2 years ago
Duration 1:41
Body Break co-host Hal Johnson describes the racism he experienced in Canadian broadcasting decades ago and how those negative experiences led him and wife Joanne McLeod to create the diverse and inclusive fitness program. 1:41

"Kayla, I understand and respect that you have your own very strong, personal beliefs. I apologize for any unrest this conversation has caused. I own that."

TSN also issued an apology to Hal Johnson earlier this week, after Johnson — who co-hosted the popular TV health series BodyBreak with Joanne McLeod — revealed in a video statement his racist treatment by TSN in the 1980s.

"We apologize to Hal Johnson for the racism he experienced at TSN, beginning in 1988, a shameful part of our past," the statement read, going on to thank him for sharing his experiences "as a reminder of the impact of racism in Canadian media that continues today."

In his video statement, Johnson described being "hired and fired in the same day" by TSN in 1988 and told that network executives wouldn't be bringing him on because they already had a Black reporter.

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