Updated: Thursday, December 7, 2017, 11:20 AM
A former NBC10 anchor now working in Atlanta has gone viral online after calling out a viewer in a broadcast who had called her the N-word in a racist email.
Sharon Reed addressed the viewer during the Tuesday night broadcast on CBS 46 as she and her colleagues were covering the Atlanta mayoral race. When the discussion turned to Atlanta’s racial demographics, Reed brought up the derogatory message.
“I think it’s fair for people to see what she wrote,” Reed said before putting the email up on the screen.
News anchor Sharon Reed responds on air to a viewer who calls her the N-word. This Atlanta Mayoral race has people fiesty tonight. pic.twitter.com/Vgri3oXnGN
— Billy Michael Honor (@BillyMHonor) December 6, 2017
“You need to be fired for the race baiting comment you made tonight. It’s o.k. for blacks to discuss certain subjects but not whites. Reall???,” the email from viewer Kathy Rae read. “You are what I call a [N-word] not a black person. you are what’s wrong with the world.”
Reed, a West Chester native, added that Rae misspelled the N-word. She said she had never said that white people couldn’t talk about race, and that “we do try to keep it real here” as the topic “has clearly entered the Atlanta mayor’s race.”
“On Dec. 5, 2017, you think it’s OK to call this journalist a [N-word],” Reed said. “I don’t. But I could clap back and say a few things to you. But instead, I will let your words, Kathy Rae, speak for themselves. And that will be the last word.”
Reed’s response has since attracted significant attention on social media:
— Drea(Her Violetness) (@ultraviolettea) December 6, 2017
This heifah here, Kathy Rae, really out here calling people “Niger” @SharonReedCBS46 gathered and dragged her. #BlackTwitter 3rd shift is on patrol, we’ll have the file ready for the 1st shift to take over and make sure Kathy Rae gon learn today. pic.twitter.com/EsiI4F8nvB
— Trump needs a psych eval. (@thedivuh) December 6, 2017
Between Keisha Lance-Bottoms as the 60th Mayor of ATL, Sharon Reed’s classy clap back at Kathy Rae, & Bey presenting Colin w/ the Muhammad Ali Award, my heart is overflowing w/ joy! #OHappyDay! pic.twitter.com/5ZATWzSpn6
— Alex Lampley (@AlexLampley) December 6, 2017
— Questlove Gomez (@questlove) December 7, 2017
Reed told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that she decided to use the N-word in its entirety in the moment, and that she is not a fan of the use of the word in general.
“That said, if you’re going to write me using that word, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to censor it for viewers,” Reed said. “It’s after 9 o’clock. We’re talking about race. She used it multiple times. There are grown-ups at home. They get it.”
She added that she responded to Rae after Rae complained over being called out for misspelling the word.
Reed is no stranger to publicity. NBC10 hired her in December 1999, and she worked the station’s evening newscasts until 2002.
She left amid an online harassment controversy that pitted her against fellow staffer Alicia Taylor. Taylor, then 36, had been the subject of what a 2002 Philadelphia Daily News article called “foul, scatological, racist, sexist” messages posted to online TV forums that she believed Reed wrote. Police told the Daily News in 2002 that Reed, then 30, “admitted to us that she was responsible for the harassment and the threats” directed at Taylor.
Reed’s attorney, Jeffrey M. Cooper, acknowledged that Reed “agreed to accept a level of responsibility” in the case, but added that “Sharon did not write and did not admit to writing anything.” Rather, he said, a third party contacted Reed to take responsibility for the postings.
After leaving NBC10, Reed landed at WOIO, a CBS affiliate in Cleveland. She made national headlines while at the station in 2004 after appearing in a nude photo for a story about artist Spencer Tunick. According to the Associated Press, that newscast drew a record number of viewers for the time slot.
During that period, Reed was also rumored to have had a child with basketball star LeBron James, which she denied as recently as August. During her time at NBC10, she was spotted cozying up at New York City’s Nobu with Robert De Niro, according to a Daily News report, and was linked romantically to former Sixers star (and current Temple University assistant basketball coach) Aaron McKie, as well as former Eagle Donovan McNabb.
Reed began working at CBS 46 (WGCL-TV) in 2015, when the station hired her to anchor its prime-time news spot. She joined the station after a stint at KMOV-TV in St. Louis.
“I’m certainly proud of my career and its growth and looking forward to the next chapter,” Reed told the Daily News in 2015. “Viewers just want somebody who’s authentic and like them in that you don’t have to be somebody on a pedestal … just somebody they can relate to.”