Posted Friday, December 8, 2017 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
A bus driver who works for a Flint, Mich. school system has been inadvertently targeted by social media trolls who believe she was the source of the racist email allegedly sent to CBS46 news anchor Sharon Reed Tuesday night.
The school system that employs the woman Kathy Rae Szuch said she is not the person in question who directed the N-word at Reed, a message which caused Reed to repeat back the N-word in full on the air. Video of Reed's clap back went viral.
Reed posted the message with the person's email address on her public Facebook page. People online traced a similar address to the bus driver.
Some folks online posted the woman's photo and family photos on Twitter and harassed her with nasty messages, said Genesee County Associate Superintendent Steve Tunnicliff in an interview.
"Through [an investigation] in which our employee thoroughly cooperated, it has become clear that the email used to send these disparaging remarks to Ms. Reed in Atlanta is not owned by, or associated with, our employee," the district's said in a statement. "The results of this misidentification have been terribly difficult for our employee who has been inundated with hurtful messages via social media."
The school system's Facebook page also become flooded with comments demanding the bus driver be fired.
On Thursday afternoon's 4 p.m. newscast, Reed castigated people who got it wrong.
"Some of you I feel compelled to say have gone too far. Some of you have crossed the line. You've threatened a woman named Kathy Rae with violence," Reed said. "No way, no way are you going to do that in my name or in the name of this television station. Not okay."
She said "you got it wrong," noting that the email addresses didn't actually match. And "whoever did [write the racist email,] I wish no harm upon them and neither should you. Come on, Atlanta, you're better than that. Lay off the vigilante justice."
Some people online were instantly skeptical whether this woman was actually the author, questioning how or why anyone in Flint, Mich. would be watching an Atlanta-based newscast.
Steve Doerr, the news director, said there are no plans to investigate who actually wrote the email or the veracity of the email. "I'm taking it at face value," he said. "I'm not feeding the trolls."