Let me start this on first off with a criticism of the title –
The problem being that Flanagan had a number of issues, was fired by several stations, and alternately blamed it on being Gay and Being black. Of course, using “Playing the Race Card” is more incendiary as a Title.
On with the story…
The cold-blooded Roanoke killer kept getting fired, kept threatening co-workers, and kept claiming he was the real victim.
Vester Lee Flanagan claimed in a suicide note Wednesday that June’s massacre of black parishioners at a South Carolina church was “the tipping point” that sent him on the path to murdering two journalists on live television Wednesday.
But in court papers and interviews with The Daily Beast, former colleagues describe Flanagan as a problematic employee, who was repeatedly reprimanded for his harsh treatment of coworkers, and complained racism was behind harsh evaluations of his work.
“He just had a history of playing the race card,” former WTWC anchor Dave Leval told The Daily Beast. “I know he did that in Tallahassee a couple of times…”
The day Flanagan was fired from a Virginia TV station in 2013, his bosses called 911 because of his volatile behavior—an incident captured on camera by Adam Ward, a man who would later become one of his victims.
At a February 2013 meeting, managers at WDBJ7 in Roanoke told Flanagan he wasn’t a good fit and would be terminated. Flanagan became “agitated” before issuing a threat, one boss recalled in court papers…
Flanagan also claimed he was attacked for being a gay black man, and that he suffered bullying, sexual harassment, and racial discrimination at work, ABC News reported.
Court papers in Flanagan’s 2013 discrimination case also reveal an apparent preoccupation with perceived racism against him.
“I am hereby requesting a trial which will be heard by a jury of my peers,” he wrote in a letter to the judge. “I would like my jury to be comprised of African-American women.”
Flanagan also mentioned a frequently appearing watermelon as evidence of racial harassment at the Roanoke TV station and claimed he had photos of it.
“This was not an innocent incident,” Flanagan claimed. “It appeared after a meeting during which ‘watermelon’ comments were discussed.”
He also claimed head photographer Lynn Eller was the mastermind of a “carefully orchestrated effort by the photography staff to oust me,” court documents show.
“Why did one of the photographers go to HR on me after working with me ONLY ONCE,” Flanagan wrote, in an apparent reference to victim Adam Ward. “There was nothing to report! That, Your honor, is just plain wrong.”…
In a performance review one month later, Flanagan scored a 1 out of 5 in the category of “works well together with photographer, producer and assignment editor;” he scored 3s on evaluations about delivering news “in an understandable manner” and “covering beat and enterprising stories.”
Bosses reprimanded Flanagan that November for wearing an Obama sticker when he voted, a violation of the non-partisan conditions of his contract.
“While this is the first incident of this nature, and we trust the last, you need to quickly and diligently move from the category of an employee who commits misstep after misstep to the kind of problem-free employee we hope you can become,” Dennison wrote in a letter to Flanagan.
One of the final memos before his termination included a harsh suggestion:
“Avoid being merely a human tape recorder” and report the real news.
Among the missteps that led to this admonition was his decision to cover a local creamery over the governor’s comments on gun control after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.