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A viral mini-clip of news anchor, Kevin Steincross from Fox News affiliate KTVI-TV, using a racial slur targeting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s name circulated the internet after its airing at 5am on January 17th in St. Louis, Missouri.
Mr. Steincross refers to Dr. King as “Martin Luther coon Jr,” according to an CNN article. Following the segment KTVI-TV’s management withheld the insult towards Dr. King and removed Mr. Steincross’s segment from the internet, leaving enough time for it to catch many viewers’ and listeners’ attention.
If Mr. Steincross’s name is searched alongside Dr. King’s name, you will find an apologetic short video posted on January 18th at 9 a.m. The news anchor claims he understands Dr. King’s significance within our nation and says he unfortunately mispronounced his name. “Please know I have total respect for Dr. King, what he meant and continues to mean to our country,” Mr. Steincross said. “This was not intentional in any way, and I sincerely apologize,” reported The New York Times.
In a short article underneath the video clip, The Times’ reporter Karen Zraick, mentions that “Tribune Broadcasting, the stations parent company, said that Mr. Steincross would not face disciplinary action.” Fox2 Management does not believe it was said purposely, as they have spoken with Mr. Steincross following this incident.
However, many strongly disagree. “The St. Louis chapter of the NAACP. said on Twitter that it was ‘unacceptable and very disappointing’ and called for Mr. Steincross to resign. Others on
Twitter questioned how he could mix up the insult with Dr. King’s name,” reported The New York Times. Others believe he should be terminated. They say an apology is simply not sufficient, given the level of disrespect that has been demonstrated towards Dr. King by the use of this slur.
In the same article written by Ms. Zriack, interviewee Sergeant Heather Taylor of the St. Louis police force says over the phone, “Dr. King was murdered. He was assassinated fighting for equality. It’s a joke in some communities with that term, and it is just not acceptable.” Sergeant Taylor said that using the slur in place of Dr. King’s name was “not something that is normally a slip of the tongue.” She believes that Mr. Steincross should be fired.
It has also been known that American broadcast journalists have made similar utterances in the past. The NAACP has met with leadership from KTVI-TV, but will not discuss what occurred during the meeting. They continue to call for the termination of Mr. Steincross.
This incident has been compared to that of Jeremy Kappell, a meteorologist for WHEC-TV in Rochester, New York, who was terminated for the using the same racial slur in reference to Dr. King on January 4th, 2019. He apologized to viewers through a Facebook video after his dismissal. WHEC-TV’s management issued a statement saying, “we believe strongly in holding our reporters and anchors to the highest standard. The individual responsible for the slur should no longer be employed at Channel 10.”
Although Dr King is no longer here physically, he will always be present throughout the nation spiritually, no matter the race or gender, within all social classes. His dream of social justice for all will continue to be powerfully and forcefully recognized.
This broadcast clearly demonstrates the importance of knowing ones’ audience. It is crucial to not offend anyone in any sort of way because it can quickly backfire. As the cases of both Jeremy Kappell and Kevin Steincross indicate, it may even cost you your career.