Alex Housden, an anchor for Oklahoma City’s KOCO 5 News, was reporting on a young gorilla from the Oklahoma City Zoo last week when she told her co-host, Jason Hackett, that the animal “kind of looks like you, when you take a picture.”
Hackett chuckled nervously and said, “Kind of does actually, yeah.”
The following day, a tearful Housden said on-air that she was sorry for the comment. Sitting on a couch beside Hackett, Housden apologized to him and to the “entire community.”
“It was inconsiderate, it was inappropriate and I have hurt people. And I want you to know I understand how much I’ve hurt you, out there — and how much I’ve hurt you,” she said, turning to Hackett. Housden told him that he had been “one of her best friends” at the station, and that she wouldn’t have wanted to hurt him “on purpose.”
During the local ABC station’s morning news program last week, KOCO anchor Alex Housden, a white woman, capped off a segment about a gorilla at the Oklahoma City Zoo by telling her Black co-anchor, Jason Hackett, that he resembled the primate. The racist comment sparked outrage among viewers and went viral, and Housden made her on-air apology the following day.
“I want to apologize not only to my co-anchor, Jason, but to our entire community,” she 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 and how much I hurt you,” she added, turning to Hackett.
She told the anchor that she loved him, considered him a best friend and knew what she said was wrong.
“I do accept your apology and I do appreciate your apology,” Hackett responded, adding that he considers her a best friend too. “I do appreciate you and I do love you. All that being said … what [Alex] said yesterday was wrong. It cut deep for me and it cut deep for a lot of you in the community.”
Hackett said he wanted this to be a teachable moment for everyone.
“The lesson here is that words matter,” he said. “We’re becoming a more diverse country. … We have to understand the stereotypes and 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.”