Metro Weekly

Gay DC news anchor suspended for tweet about obese people receiving COVID-19 vaccine

WTTG confirms Blake McCoy has been suspended after tweets criticizing D.C.'s vaccination schedule

Blake McCoy
Blake McCoy – Photo: Facebook.

A gay news anchor for a local D.C. TV station has been suspended after tweeting his objections to obese people being able to receive priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

On Tuesday, WTTG Fox 5 News anchor Blake McCoy, who co-anchors the station’s 4 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 8 p.m., and 9 p.m. broadcasts, tweeted his frustration with the District of Columbia’s guidelines for which people qualify for a vaccine, saying he did not believe people who were obese should be prioritized in the same way as essential workers.

“I’m annoyed obese people of all ages get priority vaccine access before all essential workers,” he tweeted. “When most stayed home, we went into work everyday last March, April, May and everyday since putting ourselves and loved ones at risk. Vaccinate all essential workers. Then obese.”

Under guidelines established by the D.C. Department of Health, obese people — defined as those with a Body Mass Index of greater than 30 — are among a group of people with serious health conditions or comorbidities that could put them at higher risk of death or serious hospitalization if they become infected with the COVID-19 virus.

As such, they are included in “Tier 1C” — the third group of District residents eligible to receive the vaccine, who will be able to begin making appointments starting Thursday, Feb. 25.

McCoy’s tweet sparked a backlash from Twitter users who accused him of fat-shaming, insinuating that obese people didn’t deserve to be on the vaccination eligibility list, or that they don’t work in essential jobs. Others mocked McCoy for implying that a TV anchor was somehow an “essential worker.”

McCoy later deleted the offending tweet, but responded to someone who mentioned that he deleted it with: “You’re right, I deleted because frankly, who has the time to argue with strangers on the internet.”

But McCoy also questioned whether the current vaccination protocols regarding appointments — such as D.C.’s, where no documentation is required to prove a person meets certain qualifications — might lead to people gaming the system.

“…[M]any people I know have quietly cut the line through various ways in various states,” he tweeted. “Rules seen as inequitable or unjust erode confidence in the system & drive urge to cheat it.”

See also: Reporter who criticized Detroit Lions coach’s anti-gay past apologizes for homophobic tweets

Some Twitter users called for his resignation or termination from the station. Other called McCoy hypocritical for complaining about the vaccine schedule, when his social media accounts showed him traveling throughout the country on recreational trips during 2020.

McCoy traveled to Hawaii over New Year’s Eve and posted vacation and gay club pictures to his Instagram from Chicago and other destinations.

Still other Twitter critics linked to FTVLive.com, a news blog about TV news, which wrote a post earlier this month criticizing McCoy for allegedly meeting up with strangers in the middle of a pandemic.

In a tweet on Feb. 6, McCoy wrote: “Tinder date is arriving now for wine, pizza, and monopoly. We’ve never met. If I die tonight, I want you to know I had a good run. Stay well everyone.”

He then followed that tweet up with two others detailing what happened on the 2-hour date.

The Internet pile-on over McCoy’s body-shaming tweet continued, with some viewers calling on WTTG to discipline him. McCoy later deleted the second tweet explaining why he deleted the initial tweet, and posted an apology.

“Earlier today, I tweeted something insensitive and offensive,” he wrote. “I truly regret my words and apologize. I have deleted my tweet and ask that you accept my sincere apology.”

In response to a call seeking comment, WTTG spokesperson Erica Keane confirmed told Metro Weekly: “Blake McCoy has been suspended pending further review.”

Keane declined to comment on several other questions regarding protocol for reporters when using social media, what other penalties McCoy might face, or when he’d return to the airwaves. 

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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