TV anchor apologizes after comparing black co-anchor to a gorilla during segment on Oklahoma zoo: 'It looks like you'
Following backlash over her initial comments, Alex Housden apologized to her co-anchor Jason Hackett, as well as the rest of the community for her 'inconsiderate' and 'inappropriate' remarks
OKLAHOMA: The anchor of a local Oklahoma news channel has been forced to apologize after she compared her co-anchor to a gorilla during a segment.
The incident unfolded on KOCO-TV, an ABC affiliate, on August 22, when Alex Housden was reporting on a gorilla at the Oklahoma City Zoo after the ape caretaker posted pictures of her work on Instagram, and laughingly told co-anchor Jason Hackett, a black man, that "it kind of looks like you".
Hackett, who did not seem taken aback by the comparison, responds with, "He kind of does, actually, yeah." The exchange seemed harmless enough at the time, but Housden quickly found out from social media backlash that there were some unfortunate racial undertones to her comparison.
Several people slammed the anchor for her remark, calling it "shameful" and demanded that the channel terminate her contract. The day after her ill-advised comment, Housden delivered a tearful apology with Hackett by her side.
"I'm here this morning because I want to apologize, not only to my co-anchor Jason but to our entire community," she said. "I said something yesterday that was inconsiderate, that was inappropriate, and I hurt people. And I want you to understand how much I hurt you out there."
Houston added that she and Hackett are not only co-anchors but also very good friends and insisted that she would "never do anything on purpose to hurt" him because she loves him. "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."
Hackett, for his part, acknowledged that her words were hurtful but accepted her apology and said she was one of his best friends who he loved and appreciated. "What she said yesterday was wrong," he said. "It cut deep for me, and it cut deep for a lot of you in the community."
"Coming out of this, I want this to be a teachable moment," he continued. "The lesson here is that words matter. We have to understand the stereotypes. We have to understand each other's backgrounds and the words that hurt, the words that cut deep. We have to find a way to replace those words with love and words of affirmation, as well."
However, the internet was still not very accepting of Housden's apology and many said she only did so because she feared losing her job. "Why did you say this ugly comparison, #AlexHousden?" one tweeted. "You are a trained anchor... Therefore your comment was true to your belief. An apology is great but not believed."
"An apology notwithstanding, Alex Housden's racial slur shows just how deeply racist she is," another wrote. "Wouldn't buy her assertion that the comment was just a slip of the tongue. She's RACIST, simple."