An Ohio local TV news anchor who participated in an anti-Obama program on the eve of election day took to social media on Tuesday to defend herself from critics. Yolanda Harris, an anchor at ABC affiliate WSYX in Columbus, insisted several times that she “had no choice in the matter.”
As TPM reported, WSYX was one of at least three television stations operated by the Sinclair Broadcast Group that aired “election specials” Monday night. The specials featured segments and packages produced by the parent company but presented by local news teams. While not completely devoid of positive talk about Obama, the programs featured some of the most partisan criticisms of the President and little, if any, criticism of Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
“Did the administration lie about terrorist attacks on a U.S. consulate in Libya on September 11th?” Harris said at one point during WSYX’s 6:30 broadcast on Monday, which ran instead of World News with Diane Sawyer. “Everyone from the State Department to the White House wanted you to believe it was a protest over an anti-Muslim movie. The U.S. ambassador and three others died in that attack. The administration alleges misinformation for blaming the deaths of four Americans on a movie. But the truth finally surfaced amid claims our government knew of the terrorist attack all along.”
TPM’s report on the special prompted a number of people to tweet angrily at Harris, who served as a co-anchor on the WSYX program with Bob Kendrick. Tuesday afternoon and evening, Harris responded simply and civilly on Twitter, sending a number of messages including the following: “I understand. I had no choice in the matter,” “didn’t have a choice dude,” and “I guess you’re the better person. I need my job.”
Eventually, Harris appeared to tired of the comments.
“Enough nasty comments about the election special,” Harris tweeted at 9:14 p.m. EST. “Had no choice. Not defending myself any longer. I’ll take the hits. Enjoy your evening.”
Minutes later, Harris posted a similar note on her Facebook page.
“Thanks for your input but I’ve heard enough about the election special that aired yesterday,” she wrote. “Please take your complaints to our corporate headquarters.. Sinclair Broadcast Group.”
Harris, an Ohio native and a graduate of Bowling Green State University, anchors the news each weeknight on WSYX at 5 p.m., 6 p.m., and 11 p.m., and on Fox affiliate WTTF at 10 p.m.
After sending her tweets about the special, she began tweeting thank yous to her supporters. She also began sending messages about election night. At 11:27 p.m., Harris tweeted the following to her more than 2,200 followers: “President Barack Obama wins re-election!”
Harris did not respond to an email from TPM. Sinclair Broadcast Group has not responded to TPM’s request for comment on the special.
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com