Tearful Apology After TV Host Compares Colleague To A Gorilla

An American TV host has apologised to her colleague after saying he "kind of looked like a gorilla" on-air. 

Jason Hackett and Alex Housden are co-anchors of a morning news program for KOCO 5 TV in Oklahoma.

The comment was made as the co-anchors finished a news segment with a close-up video of Fin, a gorilla from Oklahoma City Zoo, filmed by the animal's caretaker.

"As you can see, Fin was fascinated," said Housden, who is white.

"Definitely ready for his close up there," added Hackett, who is black.

"Kind of looks like you, actually," Housden laughed, before Hackett paused and replied: "It kind of does, actually, yeah".

Alex Housden later apologised to her colleague Jason Hackett. Photo: KOCO 5 TV

The slur sparked outrage from viewers -- some calling the TV station, others commenting on social media it was "racially insensitive" and perpetuated stereotypes about black people.

The racist notion of comparing African Americans as being ape-like or subhuman started in early American history, and continues to shape harmful attitudes.

The following day, Housden tearfully apologised as the pair discussed the reverberations of the dialogue on-air.

"I'm here this morning because I want to apologise -- not only to my co-anchor, Jason, but to an entire community," Housden began.

"I said something yesterday that was inconsiderate, inappropriate ... and I hurt people."

She said she considered Hackett one of her best friends, and "would never do anything on purpose to hurt [him]".

"I apologise for what I said. I know it was wrong and I'm so sorry."

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Hackett accepted his colleague's apology, acknowledging the pair were friends who had "shared things" with one another.

"All that being said, and Alex will be first to admit, that 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.

He said he wanted the dialogue to be a "teachable moment" -- that "words matter", particularly for broadcasters and those in the media.

"The demographics are changing, we are becoming a more diverse country, and there's no excuse," he said.

"We have to understand the stereotypes, we have to understand each other's backgrounds and the words that hurt, that cut deep.

"We have to find a way to replace those words with love, and with affirmation as well."

He concluded by asking KOCO 5 TV viewers to join them "on this journey".

Featured image: KOCO 5 TV