A local news anchor in Oklahoma City has apologized for telling a black colleague he looked like a gorilla during a live broadcast.
On Thursday at the end of a segment on a gorilla at the Oklahoma City zoo, KOCO morning anchor Alex Housden told her on-air colleague James Hackett that the gorilla “Kind of looks like you.” In the moment, a clearly uncomfortable Hackett hesitatingly agreed as the episode ended.
On Friday, Housden apologized for the comment, addressing both Hackett and “our entire community.”
“I said something yesterday that was inconsiderate. It was inappropriate and I hurt people. I want you to know I understand how much I hurt you,” she continued, adding that Hackett has been “one of my best friends over the past year and a half, and I would never do anything on purpose to hurt you.”
“I love our community and I want you all to know, from the bottom of my heart, I apologize for what I said. I know it was wrong,” she concluded.
Hackett said he accepted and appreciated her apology, and addressing the audience directly called Housden “one of my best friends.”
But, he added, “all that being said, what she said yesterday was wrong. It cut deep for me, and it cut deep for others in our community.”
Saying he hoped this would be “a teachable moment and that “the lesson here is that words matter,” Hackett continued, saying that the country is becoming “more diverse,” and that “there’s no excuse. We have to understand the stereotypes. We have to understand each other’s backgrounds, the words that hurt, the words that cut deep. We have to find a way to replace those words with love.”
Hackett concluded by saying that as anchors, “words are the tools of our trade, we use those words the way a plumber would use a wrench or a doctor would use a scalpel… What we need to do is use those words not to hurt and not to divide, but to build a more perfect union. This is going to be a journey. We’re learning things here, and we at KOCO 5 hope that you join us on this journey.”