ANCHORAGE, Alaska >> A television reporter quit her job on live TV with a big four-letter flourish after revealing she owns a medical marijuana business and intends to press for legalization of recreational pot in Alaska.
After reporting on the Alaska Cannabis Club on Sunday night’s broadcast, KTVA’s Charlo Greene identified herself as the business’s owner.
“Everything you’ve heard is why I, the actual owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club, will be dedicating all my energy toward fighting for freedom and for fairness, which begins with legalizing marijuana here in Alaska,” she said during the late Sunday evening newscast. “And as for this job, well not that I have a choice, but f— it, I quit.”
She then walked off camera.
In a statement on KTVA’s website, news director Bert Rudman apologized for Greene’s “inappropriate language” and said she was terminated.
Greene is the professional name used by Charlene Egbe. She told The Associated Press on Monday that she knew about a month ago that she would be leaving the way she did. No one else at the station knew anything about it, she said.
Alaska voters will decide in the November election whether to join Washington and Colorado in decriminalizing pot.
Greene doesn’t believe the manner of her departure is harming her cause.
“Are we talking about it, or not, because of what I did. Period,” she said. “It always goes back to the issue.”
Greene said she always fact checked and was unbiased about the issue as a reporter.
“I’m passionate about doing my job, and at the time my job was being a journalist,” Green, 26, said.
A message left Monday morning with Rudman wasn’t immediately returned.
Alaska business records indicate Egbe registered the Alaska Cannabis Club name on April 20, or 4-20. The number “420” has long been associated with marijuana, though its origins as shorthand for pot are unclear.
Taylor Bickford, a spokesman for a group backing the measure to legalize pot, said he hopes Alaska voters look beyond Greene’s salty language.
“I hope that her language, which clearly was not appropriate for television, doesn’t distract from the importance of her message,” said Bickford, with the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.
After voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 1998, the state of Alaska never set up dispensaries, forcing people to criminalize themselves to access pot, he said.
Passage of the initiative “would allow them to access the medicine they need,” Bickford said.
A spokeswoman for the opposition group Big Marijuana Big Mistake said it has twice complained to KTVA management about what it claimed was Greene’s biased coverage of the ballot initiative.
“While we are frustrated with these actions, we are further disappointed by this distraction from what needs to be a full and honest debate about a dangerous initiative that will hurt Alaska’s communities and kids,” Kristina Woolston said in a statement.
During a Wednesday afternoon news conference, the group outlined concerns it had with Greene’s reporting, including an Aug. 15 email request from Kalie Klaysmat, the executive director of the Alaska Association of Chiefs of Police, which also opposes the marijuana initiative.
“She seemed only interested in information that supported her point of view. She did not explore contrary information; she attacked it,” the email states. “That she seems to be the primary reporter covering marijuana issues and has such a strong personal opinion on this very divisive topic causes me to question the station’s editorial judgment.”
Associated Press writer Rachel D’Oro contributed to this report.