A newscaster faces criticism for using #PittsburghStrong after she was fired for her Facebook rant about race

Wendy Bell was terminated for comments she made about a multiple homicide in a Pittsburgh suburb.

FILE - In this March 9, 2016 file photo, police investigate the scene after a deadly shooting in Wilkinsburg, Pa. Pittsburgh television station WTAE said Wednesday, March 30, 2016, it has ended its relationship with anchorwoman Wendy Bell over racial comments she posted on Facebook about an ambush shooting at a cookout that left five people and an unborn baby dead. Bell, who is white, speculated about the identities of the two men who fatally shot five black people in the poor Pittsburgh suburb of Willkinsburg on March 9.
Police investigate the scene after a deadly shooting in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh television station WTAE fired anchorwoman Wendy Bell over controversial comments she posted on Facebook after this shooting. –Michael Henninger/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP

A Pittsburgh newscaster recently fired for what many consider a racist Facebook post is facing additional criticism after she tweeted #PittsburghStrong to draw attention to her new Facebook page.

Local Pittsburgh news channel WTAE fired Emmy-winning anchor Wendy Bell following comments she made on Facebook after two men shot and killed five people and an unborn baby while wounding three others at a barbecue in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania.

According to the New York Times, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said at a news conference that one of the gunmen fired a handgun in an alley, sending the victims from the backyard toward the house’s porch, where the second gunman shot each of the five dead in the head with an assault-style rifle. Because one of the victims was eight months pregnant, a medical examiner ruled the death of the fetus a homicide. Police had yet to name any suspects or make any arrests in the shooting as of March 31.

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On March 21, Bell wrote the now-deleted Facebook post in question.

“You needn’t be a criminal profiler to draw a mental sketch of the killers who broke so many hearts two weeks ago Wednesday,” Bell wrote in the post. “They are young black men, likely in their teens or in their early 20s. They have multiple siblings from multiple fathers and their mothers work multiple jobs. These boys have been in the system before. They’ve grown up there. They know the police. They’ve been arrested.”

Former WTAE news anchor Wendy Bell.
Former WTAE news anchor Wendy Bell. —WTAE

According to the Associated Press, WTAE’s parent company Hearst Television released a statement about Bell’s firing March 30, saying her comments were “inconsistent with the company’s ethics and journalistic standards.”

After deleting her original Facebook page, Bell announced her return to the social media platform in a tweet, using the hashtag #PittsburghStrong.

This did not sit well with several people in Pittsburgh, some of whom specifically noted Bell’s apparent comparison of her firing to the Boston Marathon bombings via her hashtag use.

Popular Pittsburgh-area blogger Virginia Montanez posted a criticism of Bell on her blog, That’s Church.

“#bostonstrong … after the Boston Marathon terrorist bombings took lives,” Montanez wrote. “#FRstrong … after the stabbings at Franklin Regional High School. #PittsburghStrong … after WENDY BELL GETS FIRED FOR WRITING UNDERHANDEDLY RACIST CRAP ON A WTAE-BRANDED FACEBOOK PAGE BUT IT IS OKAY BECAUSE SHE STARTED A NEW ONE?!”

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Despite the onslaught of negative feedback, Bell has plenty of fans who have stuck with her, with many people leaving positive comments on one of her Facebook posts.

“I’ve never met you in person, [but] I feel like I’ve gotten to know you through the years…like a good friend,” wrote one of her Facebook followers. “And now, WTAE has taken that away….unfairly.”

Another follower wrote: “Wendy I’m black and do not think your words were racist. I want you to have faith that things will work out. Believe in yourself and keep your head up. God will always be with you. I believe in you.”

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June 22, 2017 | 7:46 AM