NBC fitness expert Jeff Halevy is more than just a fitness expert. He's also a hard-core supporter of Israel,
a racist 1, and a rabid right wing guy.
I wouldn't have known any of this or even who he was, but I happened to catch his rant on Twitter posted earlier this week which included this tweet (among many others) referring Kajieme Powell, the young man gunned down by Saint Louis police (video here):
When he received some negative responses, he came back with this:
We all know what the word "thug" is code for, right?
Not only is Halevy NBC's fitness guy, he was also chosen by Cory Booker to represent Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" initiative. That's a bad idea, given his true attitudes toward the community he's supposed to be helping. Even if it's 'roid rage, it's not the right example to set when you're trying to sell healthy lifestyles.
And then there's the whole militant pro-Israel thing. Like this reply to someone reacting to his hateful responses:
I'm pretty sure that's not what NBC has in mind for Today Show promos.
Too bad for him.
Putting your honest views onto social media is fine, even if those views are repugnant to many. On Twitter especially, the crowd will usually let you know swiftly and decisively if you've said something you shouldn't have.
He's entitled to say whatever he wants, but we're entitled to object to what he says, too. As I've been reminded too many times, the content of your tweets is never completely personal. It belongs to the organization you work for, too. Like it or not, NBC has a problem on their hands, and the only question is what they're going to do to fix it, because tweets like this don't look good for them.
Update: Mr. Halevy has tweeted his "final word" which is neither apologetic nor directed at anyone in particular. In other words, it's all our fault.
Update Two: Halevy tried to pull the "I have a black friend" game by linking Kevin Powell on Twitter and drawing him into this conversation when he was previously minding his own business and needless to say, it didn't go well for Halevy.
Edited to clarify reference at the beginning to Kajieme Powell.
1 This post was edited on March 15, 2017 at Mr. Halevy's request.
Update March 15, 2017: I agreed to remove the word "racist" from the title, given that my interpretation of his comments differed even from those who left comments on this post, and also that the tweets themselves were deleted and so leave little context for anyone to know one way or the other.
In his email to me, Mr. Halevy offered some additional remarks around his original reaction to the Powell shooting.
"[M]y tweet was frustration that it felt like everything was carrying racial undertones and they were only being stoked by the media," Halevy wrote. "I believe in the incredible systemic virus we have when it comes to race in this country and believe we must find a cure. But I do not believe further incitement is a cure."
He went on to say that he felt it was unfair that I had called him a racist based upon his reaction to an interview on CNN with Powell's mother, which he felt was further inciting violence in a summer of violence.
His tweet in response to that interview read, "Just because your knife-wielding thief son got shot doesn't make it a racial incident."
Reasonable minds can differ about whether that connoted racism, but if one gives the most generous reading, it could be argued that his frustration did indeed come from what he viewed as people throwing fuel on a hot fire instead of cooling down the dialogue.
For that reason, and that one alone, I have agreed to remove the word "racist" from my title and body of the post.