The Denver Post has severed ties with sports reporter Terry Frei for a “disrespectful” tweet about Japanese race car driver Takuma Sato, the publication announced Monday.
Mr. Frei sparked a wave of criticism on Sunday after he tweeted shortly after Mr. Sato’s Indianapolis 500 win that the driver’s ethnicity made him “uncomfortable.”
“Nothing specifically personal, but I am very uncomfortable with a Japanese driver winning the Indianapolis 500 during Memorial Day weekend,” he wrote.
Mr. Frei initially doubled down on the comment before deleting the tweets and apologizing.
“THIS is what Memorial Day is about. Dave Schreiner’s death in Battle of Okinawa. Not for squeamish or ‘sensitive,’ ” he wrote in a now-deleted tweet, referencing an American football player who died while serving with Mr. Frei’s father in World War II, MSN reported.
“I apologize,” he said in another deleted tweet.
Hours later, Mr. Frei later tweeted out a statement explaining his “perspective” behind the tweet, which he said he wrote after visiting his father’s grave at Fort Logan National Cemetery.
“I researched and wrote quite graphically about the deaths of my father’s teammates, Dave Schreiner and Bob Baumann, in the Battle of Okinawa,” he wrote Sunday night. “I have the picture wallet containing photos of his family and girlfriend that Schreiner was carrying when he was killed. That is part of my perspective.”
“I am sorry, I am made a mistake, and I understand 72 years have passed since the end of World War II and I do regret people with whom I probably am very closely aligned with politically and philosophically have been so offended,” he wrote. “To those people, I apologize.”
OK, I took out the name of a book. pic.twitter.com/b953FbqMEh— Terry Frei (@TFrei) May 29, 2017
Mr. Frei also apologized to The Post and to Mr. Sato, who has yet to comment on the situation.
“I apologize to Takuma Sato,” he continued. “I made a stupid reference, during an emotional weekend, to one of the nations that we fought in World War II — and, in this case, the specific one my father fought against. Again, I will say I’m sorry, I know better, and I’m angry at myself because there was no constructive purpose in saying it and I should not have said it, especially because The Denver Post has been dragged into this.”
The Post’s president and CEO Mac Tully and editor Lee Ann Colacioppo published a statement Monday apologizing for the “disrespectful and unacceptable tweet.”
“We apologize for the disrespectful and unacceptable tweet that was sent by one of our reporters. Terry Frei is no longer an employee of The Denver Post,” they wrote. “It’s our policy not to comment further on personnel issues.The tweet doesn’t represent what we believe nor what we stand for. We hope you will accept our profound apologies.”
Mr. Frei had been at The Post for more than 20 years, the paper’s managing editor, Linda Shapley, told CNN.
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