Mary Bubala, a veteran Baltimore newswoman, lost her job with WJZ this week following public outrage over her on-air question that many said was racist and sexist. However, little focus has been given to the woman who had to answer the problematic question.
The full clip of the exchange was acquired this week by The Baltimore Sun. In the May 2 interview with Loyola University professor Kaye Whitehead, anchorwoman Mary Bubala asks: “We have had three female, African American mayors in a row. They were all passionate public servants. Two resigned though. Is it a signal that a different kind of leadership is needed to move Baltimore City forward?”
Whitehead responds no and highlights the different work and leadership styles of each former mayor. Sheila Dixon, she says in the clip, was committed to the community and was there when residents needed assistance.
“She was known for riding in the back of a garbage truck and helping people and giving them what they need,” Whitehead says.
The professor then explains how former mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had a different leadership style, and came from a family of people and politicians who were committed to Baltimore.
“And then Mayor Catherine Pugh has always wanted to be the mayor of Baltimore City,” Whitehead says in the video. “Her passion for the city really goes unchallenged.”
“Because of the work that they did, the love that they had for the city, the commitment they had for the city, the next leader of Baltimore City — if it’s going to continue to be Jack Young or whoever will challenge him coming up next year — needs to have that same level commitment and passion,” she says. “I think we can hold both things at one time.”
The fallout from Bubala’s question was swift. The anchorwoman took to social media to apologize, claiming she inappropriately combined two questions in her head.
The station’s general manager Audra Swain confirmed Monday night that Bubala was no longer an employee and said “the station apologizes to its viewers for her remarks.”
In a statement sent to The Sun Tuesday, Whitehead wrote, “The current conversations around leadership in Baltimore are challenging, emotional, and at times include layers of racism and sexism. There is an assumption that since three black women have served as mayor — and the city has not entirely changed for the better — then perhaps black women are not fit to lead this city. No one can ask racially biased questions in the public sphere — including in the media — without being held accountable.”