The words are a part of everyday conversation — “swinging” by an address and going out in the “field.”
But in the twisted mind of Virginia gunman Vester Lee Flanagan II, they were pure racism — and saying them became a death sentence for Alison Parker.
The 24-year-old white reporter, who was murdered on live TV along with her cameraman, used the phrases as an intern at WDBJ TV in Roanoke in 2012, according to an internal complaint filed by Flanagan, who was black.
“One was something about ‘swinging’ by some place; the other was out in the ‘field,’ ” said the Jan. 21 report by assistant news director Greg Baldwin, which refers to Parker as Alison Bailey (her middle name).
Parker was never disciplined over the remarks, but Flanagan never forgot them.
Hours after gunning her and Adam Ward down during their broadcast Wednesday, Flanagan revealed in tweets that the comments were still fresh in his mind.
“Alison made racist comments,” Flanagan posted while he was on the run from cops.
“They hired her after that??” he wrote.
But colleagues said that it was all in Flanagan’s head and that Parker was as far from racist as they come.
“That’s how that guy’s mind worked. Just crazy, left-field assumptions like that,” Ryan Fuqua, a video editor at WDBJ, told The Post.
“[Those words are] just common, everyday talk. [But] that was his MO — to start s- -t,” Fuqua explained. “He was unstable. One time, after one of our live shots failed, he threw all his stuff down and ran into the woods for like 20 minutes.”
Flanagan made the accusations a month before he was fired in February 2013. The document was part of his unsuccessful discrimination lawsuit against the television station.
Trevor Fair, a 33-year-old cameraman at WDBJ for six years, said that the words Parker used are commonplace but that they would routinely set Flanagan off.
“We would say stuff like, ‘The reporter’s out in the field.’ And he would look at us and say, ‘What are you saying, cotton fields? That’s racist,’ ” Fair recounted.
“We’d be like, ‘What?’ We all know what that means, but he took it as cotton fields, and therefore we’re all racists.”
“This guy was a nightmare,” Fair said. “Management’s worst nightmare.”
Read more: NY Post
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