An Oklahoma TV news anchor issued a teary, on-air apology to a black colleague after suggesting during a broadcast that he looked like a gorilla.
"I said something yesterday that was inconsiderate, it was inappropriate, and I hurt people," said KOCO-TV morning host Alex Housden, who began crying.
She was joined on a studio couch by Jason Hackett, a black journalist at the station. The day before, during a segment about a gorilla posing for selfies at the Oklahoma City Zoo, Housden turned to Hackett and said, "Kind of looks like you."
Her black co-worker hesitated for a moment. "He kind of does, actually, yeah," Hackett responded.
Overnight, criticism poured onto social media and into the station, accusing Housden of racism. The next morning, which was Friday, Housden apologized. Hackett sat graciously as she said to the camera, "I want you to understand how much I hurt you out there;" turning to Hackett, she added, “and how much I hurt you."
"I love you so much," she told her colleague, "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 replied: "Alex, thank you very much. I do accept your apology, and I do appreciate your apology."
Then it was his turn to look into the camera.
"I want to let everybody out there know that Alex is one of my best friends," he said. They often talk outside of work and share personal details of their lives, he said.
"I do love you. All that being said, and Alex would be the first to say this to you, what she said yesterday was wrong. It cut deep for me, and it cut deep for a lot of you in the community," he said.
Hackett stressed this was an opportunity to learn something. "The lesson here is that words matter," he said.