The anchor, who has messed up several times on the job only to get another shot, was fired after sleeping through a newsbreak he was to anchor last Thursday morning on the horrific Bronx house fire. He was in his Ch. 7 office at the time.
"He is no longer with the station, and no longer with 'Eyewitness News,'" a station spokesman said yesterday.
It was a stunning move, considering that Bartelstein has been a major player on the station's top-rated early-morning newscast alongside Lori Stokes and weathercaster Bill Evans.
Joe Torres was in the seat yesterday, and the station is expected to rotate others on its anchor staff in the slot.
News director Kenny Plotnik told staffers of the change yesterday in a morning meeting. He also said there would be a thorough search for a replacement.
Plotnik referred calls to a station spokesman. Bartelstein couldn't be reached for comment.
One indiscretion on Bartelstein's part might have been overlooked, but there were others. In November, he was suspended for several days after showing up for work 20 minutes after the morning news began.
A year before that, Bartelstein was sidelined for two weeks after showing up late for work and for missing a newsbreak, reportedly so that he could meet Samuel L. Jackson, who was appearing on "Live With Regis & Kelly."
And there was an ugly sexual-harassment suit that was withdrawn.
Despite the issues, management gave Bartelstein a new contract last June that spelled out the consequences if he slipped up again.
Station insiders said Bartelstein's latest goof put Plotnik and general manager Dave Davis in a tough spot. Giving him another chance would have made it look like there was a double standard at the station.
Still, the firing is troubling for many at Ch. 7 - one labeled it a "bombshell" - because outside of a proclivity for missing deadlines, (read that again, WTF? slayur) Bartelstein was generally well liked.
Moreover, insiders agree that on the air, Stokes, Bartelstein and Evans had great chemistry.
It is that chemistry, their ability to juggle seriousness and banter each day, that has made the show the most-watched local program in the morning.
Said one insider: "It's not going to be the same without him."