It appears that a Snoop Dogg reference has led to a long-time local news anchor being taken off the air. Barbie Bassett has worked for Jackson, Mississippi NBC affiliate WLBT for more than 23 years, but she hasn’t appeared on their airwaves since the March 8 morning show. Ross Reilly of the Jackson-based Clarion-Ledger reported Friday that her bio has been removed from the station website, and neither she nor the station is commenting. But this appears to be over an incident on that March 8 show.
What exactly happened there? Well, it started with Bassett doing a segment on Snoop’s new Cali Blanc white wine, in combination with Australian winery 19 Crimes. Fellow anchor Wilson Stripling then mentioned that Snoop should collaborate with Julie Leavenway, who hosts a cooking segment on their newscast, and said she would get a Snoop tattoo. Meteorologist Patrick Ellis cracks up at that, and Bassett (who had previously come under fire in October 2022 for insensitive racial remarks around a College GameDay segment) responds.
Here’s how Reilly wrote up her response: “Bassett, who is white, repeated a famous Snoop slang saying, “Fo shizzle, my [epithet].” The last part referencing the racial epithet referred to an epithet for Black people.” And Ellis gives quite the look at that point, as seen at top. Here’s the full video of the segment:
This March 8 segment on Jackson, MS NBC affiliate WLBT saw discussion of Snoop Dogg's wine. That led to a Snoop quotation from anchor Barbie Bassett (0:35). Bassett has not appeared on WLBT since that day, and her bio has been removed from the station website. pic.twitter.com/Lol1eBgsCt
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) March 28, 2023
Following that, Stripling asks “Julie, what did you think about that?’ Her response is off camera, but both Stripling and Bassett laugh more. Bassett then goes “Well, get this. A fun fact from the internet says it takes about 100 grapes to make a glass of wine, and about 600 grapes to fill a bottle. And apparently chardonnay is the most popular white wine. Patrick will probably know that. Did you know that?” Ellis responds, “Well, uh, I don’t drink chardonnay,” Stripling asks “What kind of wine do you drink?” Ellis says “Rose. But, anyways.” Bassett then goes “Okay. You’re going to have weather, right?” Ellis goes “Yeah, sure am.” Bassett goes “Okay. Stay with us.”
In the wake of that, Bassett has not appeared on the WLBT airwaves. She also hasn’t tweeted or posted on Facebook since that day, and did not respond to Clarion-Ledger attempts to contact her. WLBT personnel referred Reilly’s inquiries to management, and the only statement he got there was WLBT vice president and general manager Ted Fortenberry saying “As I am sure you can understand, WLBT is unable to comment on personnel matters.”
Here’s the October incident involving Bassett referenced above. There, reporter Carmen Poe (who is Black) is doing a segment from the College GameDay set at Jackson State a day ahead of that show, and mentions that they haven’t yet revealed the celebrity guest picker. That leads to an extended commentary from Bassett suggesting that Poe should bring the workers assembling the GameDay set a pie in order to find that out, eventually saying (around 0:35) “I know your mother or your grandmammy have got recipes, you could whip that up, don’t you think?”
Here’s the statement Bassett put out, and read on air, after that:
“Last Friday on our newscast ‘Today at 11’, I used a term that was offensive to many in our audience and to my coworkers here at WLBT. Though not intentional, I now understand how my comment was both insensitive and hurtful. I have apologized to Carmen Poe.
Now, I would like to apologize to you. That is not the heart of who I am. And for that, I humbly ask for your forgiveness and I apologize to everyone I have offended. I will learn from this and participate in training so I can better understand our history and our people.
I can’t mend the hurt my comment caused. I pray you’ll forgive me and that you’ll extend grace through this awful mistake.”
Bassett was not taken off the air over that October incident. But she now has been following this Snoop Dogg incident.
Bassett had worked at WLBT as both a meteorologist and anchor since 1999. As per Reilly’s piece, she has also won four state beauty pageant titles and one national title, and has also been an opera singer, ventriloquist, pianist, and model.