A white Oklahoma news anchor found herself in tears on television after viewers called her out for a racist comment she made toward a colleague during a live newscast.
Alex Housden and Jason Hackett, the latter of whom is one of two Black anchors at KOCO 5 News in Oklahoma City, covered what should have been a heartfelt story about an ape at the local zoo. But it did not take long for things to go from lighthearted to straight-up racist.
“This is Fin, he’s a resident at the Oklahoma City Zoo and this week the zoo’s ape caretaker took over their Instagram and we are all loving that they did,” Housden said on the air about the ape. “Now as you can see, Fin was fascinated by the camera.”
Hackett replied, “You can tell that he was ready for his close-up,” before things went left.
“[He] kinda looks like you,” Housden said.
Facebook user Lecorie Moaning posted the clip to the social media site that same day.
“Okay so Alex Housden compared Jason Hackett to a gorilla on live tv this morning unbelievable,” Moaning wrote in her post. As of Monday morning, that clip has been viewed more than 13,000 times with many users expressing shock and anger at Housden’s comment.
On Friday, Facebook user Tina Hammons posted a clip that showed Housden making a tearful and awkward apology to Hackett in the studio.
“I’m here this morning because I wanna apologize not only to my co-anchor, Jason, but to our entire community,” Housden said through tears. “I said something yesterday that was inconsiderate, it was inappropriate and I hurt people. And I want you to know, I understand how much I hurt you out there.”
Looking at Hackett, who somehow kept a straight face, she called him one of her best friends.
“I would never do anything on purpose to hurt you,” she continued. “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 turned to Housden and told her that he accepted her apology, but said he wanted this incident to teach a lesson.
“What she said yesterday was wrong. It cut deep for me and it cut deep for a lot of you in the community. I want this to be a teachable moment [and] the lesson here is that words matter. The demographics are changing and there’s no excuse. We have to understand the stereotypes. We have to understand each other’s backgrounds. We have to find a way to replace those words with love and affirmation. As broadcasters, words are the tools of our trade. What we need to do is use those words not to hurt and not to divide, but to build a more perfect union,” Hackett said.
One Twitter user was not so impressed for Housden’s apology and called for her firing.
“HEY FOLKS! KOCO 5. HAS ALLOWED ALEX HOUSDEN BACK ON TV. I PHONED MANAGEMENT. THEY SAID IT WAS THEIR DECISION TO ALLOW HER TO KEEP HER JOB! If you do not agree with this decision. Please call (405)478-3000. And demand her removal! THANKS!” Yvette Thomas wrote on Monday.
As of Monday morning, KOCO 5, Housden and Hackett had not publicly commented on the incident.