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August 31, 2019

Oklahoma News Anchor Issues Tearful Apology after Comparing Black Co-Host to a Gorilla

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An Oklahoma news anchor broke down in tears as she apologized to her African American co-host after comparing him to a gorilla on TV.

KOCO-TV morning anchor Alex Housden sparked outrage last week after telling her colleague Jason Hackett that a gorilla at the Oklahoma City Zoo "kind of looks like you." The gorilla in question was featured in a segment that ran on the show.



The next day, Housden offered a tearful apology to her co-host in front of the cameras, calling him one of her best friends.

“I’m here this morning because I wanna apologize,” she can be heard saying in a clip posted by The Shade Room. “Not only to my co-worker Jason but to our entire community.”

“I said something yesterday that was inconsiderate, it was inappropriate, and I hurt people,” Housden continued. “And I want you to know; I understand how much I hurt you out there and how much I've hurt [Jason Hackett].


Speaking to her colleague and the audience, Housden added, according to CNN:

“I love you so much, and you have been one of my best friends for the past year and a half. And I would never do anything on purpose to hurt you. And 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 and I am so sorry.”



In responding, Hackett acknowledged that Housden is one of his “best friends” but said her words, which bear an ugly racist implication, hurt him a lot. 

"What she said yesterday was wrong,” Hackett said, according to TODAY. “It cut deep for me, and it cut deep for a lot of you in the community.”



The TV host emphasized the need for Housden’s mistake to spark a consciousness among people about the impact of words in a diverse America:

“Coming out of this, I want this to be a teachable moment. And that lesson here is that words matter. ...We're becoming a more diverse country, and there's no excuse. We have to understand the stereotypes. We have to understand each other's backgrounds and the words that hurt, the words that cut deep. And we have to find a way to replace those words with love and words of affirmation as well.”

KOCO-TV, in a statement to NBC News, also addressed the situation. “The apology by Alex and Jason’s acceptance and his comments about the broader issue are the only public comment necessary,” it said.


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