Thom Brennaman apologizes again, says he didn't know anti-gay slur he used was 'rooted in hate and violence'

Mike Oz
·3 min read

In his second attempt at apologizing for using an anti-gay slur that was caught on a hot mic, disgraced broadcaster Thom Brennaman wrote an apology letter published by a Cincinnati newspaper and says he didn’t know that the word he used was “rooted in hate and violence.”

Brennaman, the now-suspended Cincinnati Reds and Fox Sports announcer, has been at the center of controversy since Wednesday night, when he uttered the anti-gay insult between games of a Reds and Royals doubleheader. While Brennaman’s slur was making the social media rounds, he continued to call the second game of the doubleheader as if nothing had happened.

Eventually, he apologized on-air — oddly, he had to call a home run in the middle of his apology — and then was taken off the broadcast. After the game, he was officially suspended by the Reds. On Thursday, Fox Sports, for whom Brennaman calls NFL games, said he would not be returning for the 2020 season. Reds players also were quick to distance themselves from Brennaman’s slur.

Thom Brennaman wrote an apology letter Thursday for saying an anti-gay slur on a hot mic. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
Thom Brennaman wrote an apology letter Thursday for saying an anti-gay slur on a hot mic. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

After his initial apology was criticized for not actually apologizing to the LGBTQ+ community, only to his bosses, Brennaman wrote an apology letter that was published Thursday afternoon by the Cincinnati Enquirer. This time, he apologized to everyone and flat out said what he did was wrong — but curiously he also said he wasn’t aware of the history behind the word.

He wrote:

I could to try to explain it or tell you about who I am and what I believe, but those things would all be excuses. The simple fact is, what I said was wrong.

I used a word that is both offensive and insulting. In the past 24 hours, I have read about its history; I had no idea it was so rooted in hate and violence and am particularly ashamed that I, someone who makes his living by the use of words, could be so careless and insensitive. It’s a word that should have no place in my vocabulary and I will certainly never utter it again.

The I-didn’t-know-it-was-hateful admission obviously comes from a place of privilege (and ignorance). Brennaman also said he’s been talking to Billy Bean, MLB’s vice president and special assistant to the commissioner, who is openly gay, and a local anchorman, both of whom he says have helped him see the damage he’s caused.

With their help, I am going to start improving my understanding of LGBTQ+ issues and not in a way to simply check a box to keep my job, but to sincerely have an impact and change. I immediately plan to participate in diversity, equity and inclusion training and have reached out to PFLAG for resources and guidance.

Regardless of what my future holds in broadcasting, my actions have forced me to reflect on who I am and how I want to be seen and thought of. I realize it is more important than ever for us to treat each other with dignity and respect. I need to be a better and I must set a better example.

And this time, Brennaman did apologize directly to the LBGTQ+ community, writing:

To the LGBTQ+ community – I am truly and deeply sorry. You should never be denigrated with crude and hateful language. I failed you, and I cannot say enough how sorry I am.

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