Cleveland TV station apologizes for reporting on Charles Ramsey’s criminal record

No doubt Charles Ramsey’s heroic act was this week’s national news story, mostly focused on celebrating the man who rescued Amanda Berry and other women from a suicidal captor — no reward money necessary. Also, it didn’t hurt that the south Cleveland man gives one hell of an interview.

But underlying this week’s heroic story was the media’s exploitation of the impoverished as interview subjects, prompting an Internet minstrel show that caused a stir among the cultural elite. And, perhaps, feeding off the frenzy that was Charles Ramsey — be it hero or, in Spike Lee’s words, a contributor to “coonery buffoonery” — another tidbit on Ramsey broke on Wednesday. Namely, that Charles Ramsey has a criminal background that included charges of domestic violence. Not every news outlet bit on the tasteless item (“Leave Charles Ramsey Alone” says Uproxx), but a few publications ran with it anyway — including class acts such as The Huffington Post and The Atlantic Wire (“Charles Ramsey Has A Rap Sheet“) who, just hours beforehand, posted a high-minded story about the meme-ification of class and race.

But the original source of Ramsey’s priors has since apologized. On Thursday, Cleveland’s local ABC affiliate, WEWS-TV, posted the below statement on the TV station’s Facebook page:

To our readers and followers: We heard you. Wednesday night, we made a poor judgment call in posting a story about Charles Ramsey’s criminal record and how he’s since reformed. While the story was factually sound, the timing of it and publication of such information was not in good taste, and we regret it. Your comments prompted us to quickly remove the story from our website and Facebook page, but we know we can’t erase what we’ve already done. Ramsey is a hero for his actions, and we recognize that. Thank you so much for your feedback.

The comment thread seems overall to have accepted WEWS’s apology, but many are calling for a personal apology to the man who saved Berry and the other kidnapping victims. Still, WEWS-TV is right about one thing: They know “they can’t erase” what they’ve done, and they have no control over whether or not places like The Atlantic Wire will apologize and take down the story.