TODAY   |  April 24, 2013

F-bomb anchor: Watching viral clip 'was gut-wrenching'

A.J. Clemente, who lost his job at North Dakota’s KFYR after cursing on live TV, discusses his “rookie mistake” with TODAY’s Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> a guy who has a lot of people talking.

>> so, we have shown you the video of a.j. clemente making what he calls a rookie mistake, that's his own admission, during his first fight as a news anchor.

>> nbc north dakota news, your news leader in high definition .

>> [ bleep ] [ bleep ] [ bleep ].

>> good evening, i'm van tieu. you may have seen our newest reporter, a.j., on nbc north dakota news, and will be joining the weekend news team as my co-anchor. tell us a little bit at yourself, a.j..

>> thanks, van. i'm very excited. i graduated from west virginia university and i'm used to, you know, from being from the east coast .

>> a.j. is with us exclusively. if you can't tell, he is a great sport. good morning to you, a.j..

>> good morning. thanks for having me.

>> i know you've seen that clip a couple of times and about ten times just this morning since we've been good enough to play it for you over and over again. what did you think when you first saw it?

>> when i first saw the clip, it was, you know, gut wrenching. i didn't even know i said it on camera until my news director walked in on the third break.

>> so that's a long time to go without realizing that you had dropped those words. go back to the beginning of the tape. the show is coming on the air. what were you doing, what caused those words to come out of your mouth?

>> it's inexcusable, first, to even say those words, but i was looking down. i'm going over my script, van, my co-anchor, happens to be looking at the camera and she notices the red light comes on. we actually came on 30 seconds early. i'm going on, you know, the london marathon is my second story. there is literally three names i don't know how to pronounce at all.

>> so you're trying to pronounce them, you're practicing them, and as you kept messing them up, you got frustrated, thinking you still had time before you went on the air, and that's when that stuff came out of your mouth.

>> the fireball shot came right out of my mouth.

>> just so people understand --

>> a fireball shot.

>> you didn't have anybody cueing you and you didn't have an earpiece. for those who are just watching, just to take them inside the moment, there's a reason why you really didn't know you were on the air.

>> exactly. i had no clue, no ifb, which would be an earpiece for those not in the business. no cue, no countdown, except in the master control , but we didn't have an earpiece. and i was two, you know, three weeks into the job, they didn't mold me for one. van forgot hers in the car. it was a big storm of everything that, you know, made me --

>> i think as most people know by now, a.j., the station let you go. and i think to tell people what kind of guy you are, you have absolutely no animosity toward the station.

>> oh, no. i fully expected, you know, that they would fire me. and i even called my news director after and, you know, apologized again.

>> you think they did what they had to do?

>> they did, they did. you know, no animosity at all.

>> are you hoping someone, somewhere, though, gives you a second chance?

>> definitely.

>> because you've got a great resume.

>> definitely. you know, i'm looking forward , moving forward. you've got to have a tough skin in this business. and, you know, it's good to laugh at yourself.

>> and we should mention, you are a reporter, you can shoot, you can edit, and we know you have a way with words. so if anybody's watching, we think a.j., a second chance would be a great thing.

>> i just want to mention real quickly, there had been reports that you used the word "gay," that is not correct. you were trying to pronounce the name of the winner of that marathon, which is sege.

>> you are better at pronouncing it than i am. i would never use that slur and i want to make sure people know that.

>> we talk about second chances, so we'll give you one right now. we normally go to commercial at this point, but a.j. clemente, take it away.

>> we'll reveal "people" magazine's pick for the most beautiful women in the world, and a new way to drink beer, a bow tie shaped can, right after this.

>> i'll buy you a beer,