Warped TV reporter Vester Lee Flanagan exasperated bosses with his ‘stiff and nervous’ delivery, his inability to use a teleprompter – and by wearing a President Obama badge during an election report, Daily Mail Online can reveal.
Management at WDBJ dubbed the failed newsman the ‘human tape recorder’ because he frequently parroted what interviewees had told him rather than doing his own journalism.
Flanagan, 41, clashed repeatedly with photojournalists, belittling them in public and intimidating them with his violent temper, according to internal reports.
He was also censured for wearing an Obama sticker while recording a segment at a polling booth during the 2012 US Presidential Election – a clear breach of journalistic impartiality.
The complaints are outlined in court papers seen by Daily Mail Online that include a scathing performance review carried out prior to his termination in Feb 2013.
The station filed the documents to rebutt a wrongful termination claim which he had brought, claiming he was the victim of discrimination because he was black and gay. The station won the case.
Flanagan earned a dismal 1 out of 5 score in several categories for his poor communication skills and a failure to show respect to colleagues.
The veteran multimedia journalist was also criticized for missing deadlines and producing reports that were ‘lean on facts’ and left viewers confused.
Flanagan shot dead two of his ex-coworkers during a live TV segment Wednesday morning before committing suicide.
Viewers of the small CBS affiliate in Moneta, Virginia, watched as he gunned down 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker at close range before turning the weapon on cameraman Adam Ward, 27.
After carrying out the shocking on-air execution he fled in a rental car and committed suicide, but not before tweeting a list of complaints and a chilling first-person video of the killings.
Those complaints echoed a May 2014 court filing in which Flanagan sued the station in Roanoke General District Court, seeking unpaid wages and damages for alleged discrimination.
In a sometimes-rambling account of his time at WDBJ Flanagan accused co-workers of racially harassing him by placing a watermelon around the office.
‘The watermelon would appear, then disappear, then appear and disappear, then appear and disappear again only to appear again,’ he wrote in a May 2014 letter to presiding Judge Francis Burkart.
‘This was not an innocent incident. The watermelon was placed in a strategic location.’
Flanagan also claimed he was assaulted by a photographer, subjected to a hostile working environment and wrongfully terminated.
He demanded a jury comprised entirely of African American women and independent investigations by the FBI and Justice Department.
‘I realize this is the ultimate “David vs. Goliath” scenario … however I am neither intimidated or fearful,’ he added.
Burkart dismissed the case in July 2014 after a detailed rebuttal from WDBK bosses who argued there was not a ‘single allegation of fact’ to support Flanagan.
Furthermore they submitted pages and pages of complaints and internal emails detailing Flanagan’s poor news judgment, flawed delivery and fiery temper.
‘Your on air performance … continues to be stiff and nervous,’ News director Dan Dennison told Flanagan in a December 2012 email.
‘You hold onto scripts with both hands; even when you have a teleprompter in the studio and never refer to them .
Read more: dailymail.co.uk