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His self-described “rookie mistake” of swearing on the air got him fired, but WVU graduate A.J. Clemente’s nightmarish debut on a North Dakota television station actually gained him more exposure on, well, television.

Clemente muttered “f***ing s**t” as the newscast opened Sunday, his first night as a co-anchor on Bismark, N.D., station KFYR. Fired the next day after video of the mishap went viral, Clemente appeared on NBC’s “Today Show” in New York City Wednesday. Chatting live on the set with hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Gutherie, he was given a chance to tell the whole story.

“It’s inexcusable first, to even say those words,” Clemente said. “I was looking down and going over my script. Van, my co-anchor, was looking at the camera and saw the red light come on. We actually came on 30-seconds early.”

He said there was no communication with the control room, no countdown, no stage director, and neither he nor his co-anchor had their IFB ear pieces to get a heads-up their mics were hot.

Clemente said he didn’t even realize what he said until the third segment of the newscast when his news director came on the set and told him what had happened. Clemente recalled watching the video the first few times.

“When I first saw the clip, it was gut-wrenching,” said Clemente. “I didn’t even know I said it on camera until my news director walked in on the third break.”

There was also a spot in the clip where it appeared Clemente made a reference to “gays”.  He wanted to make it clear he was not making a slur at all, but was actually trying to pronounce the name of the winner of the London Marathon in his script.

Clemente said he knew Sunday night his new career in Bismark was going to be brief.

“I fully expected they would fire me,”  Clemente told NBC. “I even called my news director afterward and apologized. No animosity at all.”

Clemente is ready to put the matter behind him as soon as he can. The exposure he has received since the incident has resulted in a lot of ridicule, but also a lot of compassion.

“I’m looking forward and moving forward,”  he said. “You’ve got to have a thick skin in this business. It’s good to laugh at yourself.”

Lauer and Gutherie let him read the script taking the “Today Show” into the break out of his segment. Control room sound engineeers, had some fun with him by hitting the “bleep” button several times as he finished.

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  • Danny

    It's a truism among firearms owners that you treat every gun as though it is loaded. Even if you know for a fact that it is unloaded, you still pretend it's loaded and you don't shoot it. Since this type of embarrassment happens so frequently, you'd think journalism schools would teach the same precaution about microphones, to assume that they are always, always live.

  • Tom

    Another slap in the face for WVU!! No matter how you frame it, he reflects the school, the state, and training he received. He was on the Today Show to make fun (again) of West Virginia. Had it been any state, you would never heard of him. I'm surprised that the camera didn't check to see if he was wearing shoes. First Buckwild, now this. Just another black eye for the Mountain State

    • Habib Haddad

      AJ has done a good job of rehabilitating his and WVU's reputation while on his media tour. It is obvious from watching the clip that the kid was very nervous. He will have a bright future in broadcast journalism and he should. He manned up and admitted his mistake. Good for him.

      • Larry

        He'll more likely have a great career managing a Wendy's.

  • Larry

    This whole thing is starting to seem like some elaborate prank.

  • Martinsburg Resident

    The guy made a mistake people.... move on! Remember - "Let you without sin cast the first stone!"

  • Irishman

    It has been somewhat nauseating seeing all the negativity about this. For crying out loud, many of those pointing a judgmental finger probably would have gone on a blame game rant if it had been them. I'm sure he's embarrassed that his termination has been so blown up due to social media, and he's been a trooper through it all. For the person who pointed out that they hope he's learned a lesson for using the language he did....He DID say he doesn't ordinarily use that language, and has profusely apologized. I really don't think he owes your crooked finger of judgment anything else.

  • CaptainQ

    Well, hopefully A. J. can recover from this, but it'll take time. He'll have to get used to seeing things like THIS all over the internet:

    There's even some worse ones, but I won't post those links here. They're easy to find though, just Google "A J Clemente" and there's plenty of similar items out there in cyberspace.

  • GregG

    I don't get it. If this guy had been fired for making a negative comment about God, the NRA or coal, everyone and his brother would be rising up and screaming "FREE SPEECH"!!! Isn't saying a cuss word "free speech"? Seems everyone wants to scream "constitutional rights" when it benefits themselves, but then all the sudden if it's a WORD they don't want to hear they have a fit. I have yet to find anywhere in the First Amendment any mention of "execpt for dirty words". But then again, the Constitution is handled in the same manner as the Bible, pick what you want to use and ignore the rest.

    • CaptainQ

      GregG, 'Free Speech', like Beauty, is always in the eye of the beholder.

      For example, ALL posts on this MB with a certain man's name in them are automatically filtered out for 'moderation.' I guess that's MetroNews' version of 'Free Speech' in action.

      Oh well, rules and rules I suppose....

    • bulldog95

      Two thumbs up.

    • Red Dwarf

      Difference is, what he said could be used by anybody on any side of an argument. A the First Amendment doesn't apply in a privately owned entity (as opposed to government), like a TV station.

      But I'll for him taking Caridi's place. At least he can pronounce words correctly and enunciate!

    • GregG

      Sorry for the above typo, should have read "If this guy would have been fired for making a POSITIVE comment about......"

  • hailey

    Good luck AJ you rock

  • leroy jethro gibbs

    15 minutes of fame!

  • bulldog95

    Slow news day?

  • mountaineerforever

    What a brilliant career move. Say a little profanity on the air and you move from a small station in a corner of North Dakota to the Today Show and a national audience.

  • Richard

    no excuse for that language, though - I hope he learned his lesson and doesn't use it anymore

  • Jim Moon

    This guy has a lot of class, and is very honest about him self.. Show me the person that hasn't made a mistake and I show you a liar,


      WV Radio should offer A.J. a job, he could take JIM STALLING place. It would be a big improvement and get rid of a lot of dead weight!

      • Cooter

        He could come back. He's...uhhhh...kinda used to being from the East Coast.

        I'm not a journalist, but I was surprised that his pronunciation of words sounded a little odd, like he's not trained in using his voice.

        • mark

          He's not trained in using his voice. He has never done radio or any voice-over work. I wish him the best of luck.