by Sam Levin
Yesterday, we wrote about a somewhat bizarre "open letter" rant from FOX 2 Meteorologist Chris Higgins on his Facebook page, directed at his "haters" who have apparently been attacking him for not accurately predicting the snow storm over the weekend. It included some gem quotes like, "That is an assault on my character and integrity and I'm not going to just sit here and take it," and, "I pretty much nailed EVERYTHING about this storm EXCEPT the exact amounts."
Daily RFT has since got in touch with Higgins to chat about his snow reporting and what exactly pushed him over the edge -- and whether his bosses approved of the lengthy Facebook defense.
For starters, he tells us, he takes his job very seriously.
"I have no problem with people calling us out...and holding us accountable," he says. "It's the tone in which people were calling me out and the personal nature [of the attacks].... I have a thick skin...but there is a certain level of common human decency."
Higgins admits that he got the exact forecast wrong in terms of the number of inches of snow, a mistake which apparently launched the backlash of angry viewers calling him a liar and an idiot on social media.
"I can handle the criticisms on the forecast," he says. "The totals of the forecast were wrong.... I take getting the forecast as accurately as possible very, very seriously. It's not just an ego boost.... It makes a difference to people.... What we say can impact people's lives. It can save lives. It can cost lives."
It was the very personal digs, he says, that made him say, "Enough is enough," at which point he went to his Facebook page to defend himself and shut down the haters.
"I always thought you let it roll off your shoulders," he says.
But there's a limit, he says.
After more than two decades in the weather reporting business, the specific accusations that he is intentionally lying to viewers, he says, eventually got him angry enough to launch a formal response.
"This is how my dad raised me.... Sometimes you stand up for yourself," he says, adding, "Facebook and social media gets everybody a lot closer to those of us in the public eye."
Continue for more of our interview with Chris Higgins and for a taste of a Twitter fight.
There seems to have been a bit of back and forth between Higgins and columnist Joe Strauss:
I've concluded on-air meteorologists are dressed up carnival barkers. But the pay is so much better. #RolledUpSleeves— Joe Strauss (@JoeStrauss) February 3, 2013
STL TV's will numb us today w/video of snow blowers, street scrapers. They could really entertain by replaying last night's forecast. #goof— Joe Strauss (@JoeStrauss) February 3, 2013
Hint to 314 weather types: spare the chit-chat and breathless teases. Market accuracy, not the shiny Doppler toys. A dusting is not 4".— Joe Strauss (@JoeStrauss) February 3, 2013
Higgins says that his higher-ups approved of his response. "They said, 'We respect your concerns.... We respect your passion for your job.... Be careful...and say what you need to say.' I really respect that and I'm very grateful."
He says he is now trying to move on. "I'm completely shocked at the traction it got.... Sadly enough, you kind of get sucked into it. It becomes a melodrama."
He says, "If I offended anybody by my choice of words, I apologize," adding, "I hope that our viewers, most of them understand that everybody deserves a little respect, even if they've missed the mark a little bit."