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A new report shows WJZ-TV lost almost half of its 5 p.m. news audience in a key demographic in the wake of a controversial question by anchorwoman Mary Bubala and her subsequent firing.

The Baltimore Sun reports, during what’s called sweeps this past May, for weekdays during the period from April 25 to May 3 when Bubala was still co-anchor of WJZ’s 5 p.m. newscast, it averaged a 1.6 rating (A 1.0 rating equals 10,778 adults between ages 25 and 54).

From May 6 to May 22, after she was fired for asking the controversial question, the 5 p.m. telecast averaged a 0.84 rating among viewers 25 to 54.

That’s a 46% audience loss.

Bubala was let go after 15 years on the air for a question she asked about the race, gender and leadership of Baltimore’s past three mayors back on May 2.

She said to Loyola University Maryland Professor Karsonya “Kaye” Wise Whitehead, “We’ve had three female, African-American mayors in a row. They were all passionate public servants. Two resigned, though. Is this a signal that a different kind of leadership is needed to move Baltimore City forward?”

See Also: WJZ News Anchor Fired After On-Air Racially Insensitive Remark

The criticism was fierce as WJZ fired Bubala days later. Audra Swain, vice president and general manager of WJZ, acknowledged the 46% loss in ratings points among viewers 25 to 54, but said in an email to the Sun that the station lost only 38% of its audience share in May sweeps in the wake of the Bubala controversy and firing.

It is impossible to determine from data compiled by Sun via Nielsen Co. and WJZ whether viewers tuned out because they were unhappy about Bubala’s question or the station’s decision to fire her for it.

Read More: Baltimore Sun 

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