A news anchor in the Los Angeles area has been fired from his station after he criticized on the air the way the station publicly treated his longtime co-host. KTLA anchor Mark Mester was fired just days after he criticized the station's executives in an off-script segment for the way they treated co-host Lynette Romero's departure after 24 years, and after he was subsequently suspended, the Los Angeles Times confirmed Thursday confirmed that Mester was no longer with the company.
According to the outlet, which cited several employees at the station, KTLA general manager Janene Drafs announced Mester's firing during a meeting with staff at around 1:15 p.m. local time, sharing, "[Mester] is no longer at KTLA5." Mester's page on the KTLA website also no longer exists, with the page now instead forwarding visitors to a page of the news team where Mester is no longer listed. At this time, neither Mester nor the station have addressed his firing, which follows the exit of his co-anchor, which led to controversy over the station's handling of Romero's departure.
After nearly 24 years at KTLA, our Lynette Romero has decided to move on and pursue another opportunity. We wish Lynette nothing but the best of luck on her next chapter. pic.twitter.com/dnjrhCItSs— KTLA (@KTLA) September 14, 2022
During a weekday news broadcast last week, KTLA had entertainment reporter Sam Rubin announce Romero's departure during a 40-second segment instead of having Romero, a member of KTLA for nearly 24 years, share the news herself. During the Sept. 14 airing, Rubin told viewers that "KTLA management had hoped she would stay here her entire career and KTLA worked hard to make that happen, but Lynette has decided to move onto another opportunity elsewhere." The fact that Romero was not given the chance to say goodbye to viewers herself drew widespread criticism, with Mester later criticizing the decision during an off-script moment during Saturday's weekend morning show, calling the station's handling of his co-host's exit "unfortunate," "inappropriate" and "cruel."
"I want to start off right now by offering up an apology to you [the viewers]. What the viewers experienced was rude, it was cruel, it was inappropriate and we are so sorry. I also want to say sorry to Lynette Romero, because Lynette ... I love you so much, and you really are my best friend, you did not deserve what happened to you on Wednesday," he said in part. "Lynette deserved to say goodbye, it didn't happen, I don't know who wrote the script, I don't know who handed it to Sam Rubin, regardless, this was a mistake. We owe you an apology, and we owe Lynette an apology."
According to newsroom employees, per the Los Angeles Times, producers had written a script for Mester to read to send off Romero that included photos and clips of her broadcasts, though Mester ignored that during the segment. He also hired a plane with a banner reading, "We love you, Lynette," which he wanted to include footage of in the segment, though he was rejected. Sources said he appeared angry before stepping on set Saturday. Shortly after that off-script moment, Deadline confirmed that Mester had been suspended by KTLA.
KTLA quickly assembled a new team, Megan Telles and Pedro Rivera, to lead the weekend morning broadcast following Mester's termination and Romero's exit. "Morale on the morning shift has been very strong this weekend," a station source with knowledge of the situation told E! News. "The team came together, rallied around each other with a feeling of camaraderie, having the awareness that many viewers have posted on social media that they will be boycotting KTLA this weekend."
The source also told E! News that Mester has reportedly hired an attorney and is "exploring legal options against KTLA." The same source said Romero is "happy to be headed to KNBC" and has accepted a job that includes mostly anchoring on weekdays. "I will always be grateful for the love and affection LA viewers have given me," Romero tweeted. "Stay tuned my friends I'll be right back."