TV news anchor tearfully apologizes after saying black coworker 'looks like' a gorilla: 'I know it was wrong'

Oklahoma City KOCO television news anchor Alex Housden apologized for saying her black coworker Jason Hackett looks like a gorilla. (Screenshot: YouTube/QR QR)
Oklahoma City KOCO television news anchor Alex Housden apologized for saying her black coworker Jason Hackett looks like a gorilla. (Screenshot: YouTube/QR QR)

An Oklahoma television news anchor issued a sobbing apology to her “best friend” and coworker, who is black, for saying he looked like a gorilla on-air.

On Friday, Alex Housden, a news anchor at KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City apologized to coworker Jason Hackett for her comment during a Thursday segment about the Oklahoma City Zoo.

While introducing a gorilla named Finn, Housden said, “This week, the ape’s caretaker took over their Instagram and we are all loving that they did. Now as you can see, Finn was fascinated by the camera.”

“Definitely ready for his close-up,” said Hackett.

“Kind of looks like you,” Housden said, followed by nervous laughter from Hackett. “He kinda does, actually, yeah,” Hackett responded.

The 18-second clip was shared on Facebook, infuriating viewers, however, Houden’s next-day apology made the story viral.

On Friday, while sitting next to Hackett, Housden said, “I said something yesterday that was inconsiderate, it was inappropriate, and I hurt people...”

“I love you so much,” Housden said to Hackett. “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.”

Hackett accepted his coworker’s apology saying, “I want to let everybody out there to know that Alex is one of my best friends...what she said yesterday was wrong. It cut deep for me and it cut deep for a lot of you in the community...”

He added, “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...each other’s backgrounds and the words that hurt...that cut deep and we have to find a way to replace those words with love...”

Housden’s apology didn’t fix the damage to her name, as many on Twitter do not want to see her on-air. People also left comments on Housden’s Facebook page.

“If you’re comfortable saying those kind of things on air, who knows what you say behind closed doors,” one person said.

“The fact your brain could possibly string those words together and think it was ok to say them says more about who you are in private than any crying apology could make up for,” another commented.

“Think before you speak. And you were on live television. An apology will not make that go away,” one added.

Others had sympathy for Housden.

"I don't think you meant any thing by what you said and people need to get a thicker skin,” one person wrote on her Facebook page.

"Obviously many people are not the forgiving type. But I for one do appreciate the apology, for we all have said something stupid that we did not mean and/or regretted later on in life. Unless there is a record of you saying things like this consistently, I do not believe that you should be fired. It's a lesson that we all should watch what we say, b/c words do matter,” another commented.

“We have all made mistakes and I'm positive she meant no disrespect,” someone wrote. “Far too dramatic responses here....”

One person said Housden’s comment was not “racist at all,” patronizing the offended for not “having a backbone.” And some just wanted to move on: “She apologized he accepted. That’s that.”

Housden and Hackett did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s interview requests. A representative of KOCO tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “We believe that Alex’s apology and Jason’s acceptance of her apology and his comments on the broader issue are sufficient.”

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