Fox 29 weeknight news anchor Jason Martinez caused a controversy online over the weekend after sending a hurtful message to an anti-bullying activist on Instagram.
As author and motivational speaker Lizzie Velasquez posted on Instagram on Monday, Martinez replied to one of her Instagram stories over the weekend, writing, “God. That’s scary.” He has since apologized for the message.
Velasquez, 30, was born with rare genetic conditions that affect her eyes and bones and prevent her from gaining body weight. In 2006, a viral YouTube video labeled her the “World’s Ugliest Woman,” which prompted Velasquez to begin speaking out against bullying.
Velasquez shared Martinez’s message with her 600,000-strong Instagram following, writing that she would “give [him] the benefit of the doubt” in the situation. She did not immediately respond to request for further comment.
“Since October is national anti bullying awareness month, let’s take this as a learning moment and remember even ‘joking’ like this to a friend can always end up hurting someone else,” she wrote. “Let’s do better next time.”
Velasquez added that Martinez had also reached out to her to apologize for the message, which she said she would “always accept and offer forgiveness.” The anchor, who joined Fox 29 back in June, also posted a public apology to his social media profiles.
“I want to apologize to Lizzie Velasquez and her followers. That DM was NOT an attempt to bully her. It was a mistake,” Martinez, who has been at the station since June, wrote on Twitter and Instagram. “Accidental or not, it was a horrible thing to say and it I promise to be better. That is not who I am. I’m so sorry Lizzie!”
Martinez also thanked Velasquez for “being such an inspiration to so many.” When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Fox 29 referred the Inquirer to Martinez’s apology. Some fans, however, responded to Martinez’s apology on Twitter, saying it was not sufficient, and called for him to be fired from the station.
“It is so important we use moments like this as a learning lesson,” Velasquez wrote on Twitter. “My only hope is that moving forward others will think before they press send.”