Hospitality associations fire Walt Baker after racist email

Monday, March 8, 2010 at 6:16pm
Staff reports

Mercatus Communications’ contract with the Tennessee Hospitality Association and the Greater Nashville Hospitality Association has been terminated in the fallout from a racist email forwarded by principal Walt Baker.

Together, the state and local hospitality associations jointly expressed disagreement with the inappropriate email that compared First Lady Michelle Obama to a chimpanzee.

“Walt’s email reflects a deep misunderstanding of the nature of hospitality and our role as an association said Bill Mish, president of the board of the Tennessee Hospitality Association. “His email was sent in his personal capacity and not in his connection with the hospitality associations.”

Both groups, that together represent 280 hotels with 40,000 rooms across the state, 650 restaurants, have been busy with damage control since word of the email spread Friday.

The hospitality industry is the second-largest employer in the state and locally, employing tens of thousands of individuals.

“Diversity has always been a high priority in the hospitality industry,” said Pete Weien, president of the Greater Nashville Hospitality Association. “The email sent by Mr. Baker does not reflect the positive initiatives we have undertaken as an industry and organization, and therefore we are terminating our relationship with Mercatus and Walt Baker.”

American Hotel and Lodging Association board member Tom Negri stated: “The email sent by Mr. Baker is unacceptable and upsetting, both personally and professionally. It is not who we are as a hospitality organization and it fails to reflect that our industry is one of the most diverse industries in the state of Tennessee and, in fact, our country.”


18 Comments on this post:

By: kanno on 3/8/10 at 7:06

kanno truth asks this question does this mean the people of Tenn. are becoming more sensitive to their racist attitude. Does this mean they want to progress rather than digress. Is their a chance the racist of this state are on the decline. Well I sure in the hell hope so. Let this be a start for ending the Taliban like groups the racist run in America. Like we say about the Muslims "why don't the rest of the Muslims do something about the extremist Alqeda" Well do something about the extremist racist. Let this be the start.

By: Anna3 on 3/9/10 at 7:25

Walt Baker was a close personal friend of Tom Negri. It is interesting that they turned on him so quickly....if nothing else, these folks are prdictable. Baker should have know better than to put out stuff such as this....especially considering the liberals in the mayors office and in hospitality leadership in one viewed this stuff as a joke. Walt needs to relocate...he useless in nashville as a PR Executive in the future.

By: sidneyames on 3/9/10 at 7:41

kanno, I bet there is NOT one single "honky" joke being passed around. Yeah, really. All races make fun of other races. I have some black friends who can't stand hispanics and vice-versa. Peace on earth? NOT till the last person (male or female) standing is a mutant!

I don't think passing those e-mails is proper in any business or other setting. When they come to my in-box, I erase them and don't forward them.

ON a side note, I think the photo of Michelle is Less than flattering. Who's the idiot photographer who released it? He should have his camera confiscated.

Once question: If you happen to believe in the theory of evolution (man descended from prehistoric apes), then were there white apes and brown apes? Hmmmmmm!

By: JeffF on 3/9/10 at 8:02

Wow that managed to drop in that incorrect statistic even while covering their own tails. Hospitality is no where near the second largest employer in the Nashville or the state. Why does the media insist on printing this claim each and every time a hospitality lobbyist tells them?

Hospitatality fluctuates between 9 and 10 in Davidson. It rises all the way up to number eight in Tennessee. The industry just is not as important as it constantly tells us it is.

NCP staff: there are quarterly published reports from the State Department of Workforce Development.

By: Stirrin the Pitcher on 3/9/10 at 8:05

How 'bout that Dan Rather on Chris Matthew's show, aaay Kanno - but I digress, or is it regress? Either way you can't deny that Rather is a member of the Taliban-like group called the main stream media:

MATTHEWS: So in other words they'll make it happen.
MITCHELL: They've got to make it happen.
MATTHEWS: Joe Klein?
JOE KLEIN, TIME: Congressional Democrats are dreadful but they're not entirely stupid. They have to pass it.
MATTHEWS: And Nancy Pelosi will have her greatest triumph.
KLEIN: Sort of.
RATHER: When you talk about a triumph though. One, part of the undertow in the coming election is going to be President Obama's leadership. And the Republicans will make a case and a lot of independents will buy this argument. "Listen he just hasn't been, look at the health care bill. It was his number one priority. It took him forever to get it through and he had to compromise it to death." And a version of, "Listen he's a nice person, he's very articulate" this is what's been used against him, "but he couldn't sell watermelons if it, you gave him the state troopers to flag down the traffic."

By: RealityRosie on 3/9/10 at 8:26

Politics aside, SHAME ON NASHVILLE for cultivating the secret cult of racism.

By: 742180 on 3/9/10 at 9:05

Rather than 'shame on nashville' I would suggest shame on the hiprocacy displayed by the posts on this subject thus far. You are such a self righteous group, never judgemental, never laughing at a joke about another person, you are just perfect. Good for you!!
Think about this: Of all the Policies, Doctrines, directions, etc of the United States the one that has NEVER been reviewed is our Civil Rights Policy. It can't even be suggested for review, it can't even be brought to the table without the accusation of Racism.
Blacks are their own worst enemy. They will do nothing to police their own neighborhood crime, they refuse to accept responsibility for their action ie birthing children and abandoning them, they are the largest acceptor (by percentage of population) of costly welfare programs, they commit the bulk of ALL crimes and are indescriminate in whom and where they commit them, and most of all they depend on 'you perfect people' to refuse to make them accountable.

What is Liberal Americas fascination with Black America? Beats the hell out of me, me thinks its total fear of their "loudness', their 'aggressiveness, even their color Black makes you cringe with fear. Maybe its their fashion sence, they dress so 'Cool.'
All this man did is forward an email and you are ready to give him the electric chair. But, yet you are forgiving of the Black person who murders someone. Go figure!
Feel free to write me off as a Racist, Inbreed, horrible person. It wil make you feel superior, and enable you to hide within your cowardice to address a real and growing problem. And you know it. But "don't talk about it" you would be racist.

By: pswindle on 3/9/10 at 9:54

I have received terrible emails abour our first family. It needs to stop. That makes TN look exactly what it is, red to the bone.

By: artsmart on 3/9/10 at 10:09

I think this guy and Tiger should go down in the stupid hall of fame. He now has no career in Nashville. I just wish people on the offended side would be just as offended when it is the other group being insulted. It was not that long ago that this nonsense was just not acceptable.

By: fishfry on 3/9/10 at 10:18

To pswindle: Whoever you are, there have been rotten emails about first families since email began. It's like bad television shows, you just have to turn them off, in this case, delete. Very Easy! And it is common for this type of junk stuff to happen since Jay Leno and Letterman and all the others began making really crude jokes about our Presidents. If you want this kind of stuff to cease, then you need to cultivate a sense of respect for the office of the President once again. In days gone by we may have not liked an elected official but we still showed respect for the office. Not so anymore. TOO bad, SO sad! And I never saw that color mattered a bit - white presidents got the brunt of bad jokes for years and years. Grow Up... and this President is not all black any way. Have people forgotten that?

By: dargent7 on 3/9/10 at 11:21

Why in Heaven's name is this city spending $700. million on a new Convention Center? Hoping to milk that, "Music City" moniker a little longer?
Nashville, Tenn. is up to it's earlobes with "Guns 'N Bars", Guns 'N Starbucks", hating Al Gore is an elective at colleges, two war(s) are a good thing, voting for Sarah Palin is the right thing to do, sponsoring "Tea Bagger's" conventions is a noble effort, no wine sales in groceries, schools shut down 'cause it's snowing, on and on.
The NRA and John Deere crowd will not make ends meet for a city so backwards it's painful to watch. And, yet proud of it!

By: slzy on 3/9/10 at 11:49

no doubt selling wine in grocerys will lead to a golden age.

By: jasonweaver on 3/9/10 at 5:36

Why is the media calling the email racist? Seems objective news organizations would write it as an email many found to be racist or objectionable. The media judge this and lost all partiality with the story, helping become Baker's executioner in this deal. The Scene started it all by calling it racist. It probably would have been a good idea to show it first to African American leaders in the community and let them judge it. I think there would have been a few would have been more forgiving and less flamethrowing and judged the man for the whole of his actions and behavior over time rather than this one instance.

By: revo-lou on 3/9/10 at 5:57

"By: jasonweaver on 3/9/10 at 5:36
Why is the media calling the email racist? Seems objective news organizations would write it as an email many found to be racist or objectionable. The media judge … whole of his actions and behavior over time rather than this one instance."

Not the brightest bulb in the pack, are you son?

By: nashvillebizlady on 3/9/10 at 9:01

I don't agree with what Walt Baker did by sending out this email, as it was tacky and stupid, but I can sure tell you that no one has ever been fired for the flithy, racist and hate emails that I saw while President Bush was in the White House.

Let us also not forgot the horrible words/jokes that we all had to endure when Sarah Palin was running for office. Not only did they attack her, they attacked her family and mentally handicapped child. REVERSE RACISM DOES EXIST!!!! STOP USING THIS AS YOUR CRUTCH!

By: kizzmo on 3/12/10 at 7:56

Be yourself... The ones that mind don't matter, and the ones that matter don't mind!

By: kizzmo on 3/12/10 at 8:42

Walt Baker was himself - equating African-Americans to Chimanzees and finding it hilarious! Now he can 'bask' in his revelations and find new work with those of like minds. Please don't rise to defend his 'personal joke among friends', because these friends who share his myopic view of people can now employ him! He surely wouldn't want to make fun of certain people and then take their money in salary, benefits, perks and contracts, now would he? As an 'honorable man' with a 'lifetime of accomplishments', I'm sure that he now feels great relief that his burden of duplicity has finally been lifted! He can now go and find employment with the 'no-chimps-allowed' crowd that he so honestly embraces, move to a 'chimp-free' area, refuse to eat or associate with 'chimps' in any way, and live guilt-free with his 'chimp-less' family and all their descendants in a beautiful 'No Chimp' world. His parents would be so proud!

I live in Washington, DC, and, I certainly hope that Nashville is not the type of city and environment that nurtured and encouraged this kind of sophmoric debauchery. And his self-serving 'apology', apologizing to 'anyone who might be offended', (though for the life of him, he couldn't see why!). The only question I have is, who else was on that priveliged list of recipients that 'ol Walt felt would whole-heartedly share his humorous anthropormorfic comparisons? I think the only mistake this Good-ol' boy made was to conveniently write his joke down when it was 'his turn' to entertain the group with the weekly 'good one'!

In conclusion, I have resolved to spend my time and money on a city that embraces and celebrates its differences in people, culture and achievements, as opposed to exploiting them. I'm afraid that, despite all of the 'new South' propaganda that Tennessee has invested boatloads of ALL of its citizens money to convince the rest of America that it has become, I still otherwise believe that Nashville ' ain't ready yet for prime-time'... Good luck to you all - and Walt, I'm betting you won't even have to move to find that insulated 'utopia' you have grown so comfortable with!

PS: I've seen the 'executive board' photos of these organizations, and iff Nashville is truly hell-bent on demonstrating its commitments to diversity, how about sprinkling a few 'faces of color' - (all colors!) - into the landscape? Maybe even replace WALT 'Your neck is Better Dead than Not Red' Baker with one?
Nah!!! Too much like right...

By: kizzmo on 3/12/10 at 8:59

Oh yeah, Walt, one more thing:
Here's a clue as to your next occupation - you'd be a shoe-in: Sell high-end, 800-threadcount sheets and pillowcases to 'Nashvillians of Taste'! (NEVER Egyptian Cotton, of course!) Trust me - You're a 'natural'...

-See you at the next 'white sale' -lol!