For the second time in just two weeks, a local TV reporter is apologizing after using a racial slur while speaking about the late Martin Luther King Jr.
Kevin Steincross of KTVI (Fox2 Now) in St. Louis made the unfortunate flub just after 5:30 a.m. Thursday when he said that an upcoming tribute at St. Louis University would honor civil rights icon “Martin Luther coon Jr,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Steincross appeared on air a little after 9 a.m. to apologize.
“We have heard from a viewer about a mistake I made in our 5 a.m. newscast,” the anchor began. “In our story about the tribute to Dr. King, I unfortunately mispronounced his name. Please know that I have total respect for Dr. King, what he meant and what he continues to mean to our country. This was not intentional in any way, and I sincerely apologize.”
A representative with Tribune Broadcasting, which owns the station, said Steincross made an unfortunate mistake and that the station would not take disciplinary action against him.
In a statement, the representative wrote that “The Fox 2 management team spoke to Kevin following the mistake and we believe it was truly inadvertent [and] does not reflect Kevin’s core beliefs. Kevin is extremely upset by the mistake and regrets it deeply.”
The St. Louis chapter of the NAACP wasn’t as forgiving, however, and called the mispronunciation “unacceptable and very disappointing.”
“Yesterday’s incident on @Fox2NOW was deplorable and should not be tolerated,” the group wrote on Twitter. “The anchor needs to resign.”
Steincross and his slip-up are now among the list of broadcasters who’ve made the same mistake while trying to pronounce King’s name, sparking debates of whether they’re just innocent gaffes or revealed racism. Earlier this month, a TV newscaster in Rochester, New York, was fired for his blunder while speaking about the weather at Martin Luther King Jr. Park.
WHEC meteorologist Jeremy Kappell instead stumbled over the name during a Jan. 4 broadcast and remarked how gloomy it was over “Martin Luther coon — King — Jr. Park.” The forecaster immediately tried correcting his mistake, but it was too late.
Three days later, the general manager at the station released a statement confirming Kappell’s termination.
Kappell spoke with Radio 95.1 after the incident and insisted there was no malice behind his words and that he had been “mischaracterized.” He also said he received an outpouring of support from fellow newscasters, including NBC “Today’s” Al Roker.
“It was tumultuous, it was one of the worst days in my life,” the former NBC newscaster told the station “Although I didn’t choose this fight, this fight chose me. And now, it’s time for us to run with this.”
In 2013, San Antonio weatherman Mike Hernandez also misspoke and dubbed the holiday “Martin Luther coon Day.” He apologized and kept his job, the Post-Dispatch reported.
ESPN sportscaster Mike Greenberg told listeners he and his co-host were “talking football with you on this Martin Luther coon — King — Jr. holiday” during a 2010 broadcast of their “Mike & Mike” radio show. Greenberg also wasn’t fired after issuing an apology.
According to his Fox2Now.com bio, Steincross has been working at the station in various roles since 1996.
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