As many celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, one Missouri newscaster may be reliving an MLK moment that could have cost him his job.
During an early morning newscast on January 17, KTVI newscaster Kevin Steincross was reporting on an upcoming MLK Tribute when he replaced part of the civil rights leader’s name with a racial slur.
As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, Steincross referred to Martin Luther King Jr. as “Martin Luther coon Jr.”
During a later part of the newscast, Steincross apologized for his alleged mistake.
As The Root reports, he said:
“I want to take a moment to apologize. We have heard from a viewer about a mistake I made in our 5 a.m. newscast. In our story about the tribute to Dr. King, I, unfortunately, mispronounced his name. Please know 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.”
According to The Root, Tribune Broadcasting said they would not be taking disciplinary action against Steincross for the “mistake.”
As St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, a spokesperson from Tribune said in a written statement:
The Fox2 management team spoke to Kevin following the mistake and we believe that it was truly inadvertent and does not reflect Kevin’s core beliefs. Kevin is extremely upset by the mistake and regrets it deeply.
However, Steincross isn’t the first newscaster to make this “mistake.”
Earlier this month, New York meteorologist, Jeremy Kappell, was fired for saying it looked gray at “Martin Luther coon King Jr. Park,” during a weather report.
— Al Roker (@alroker) January 9, 2019
Despite other newscasters such as Al Roker coming to Kappell’s defense for the “unfortunate flub,” the station remained firm on their decision.
While Steincross maintains his job, he continues to receive backlash for using the slur.
This is unacceptable and very disappointing https://t.co/m4wIw0tih1
— STL COUNTY NAACP (@stlcountyNAACP) January 17, 2019
The St. Louis County NAACP chapter tweeted:
This is unacceptable and very disappointing.
And others commented on the use of that particular slur by racists, who disliked King, in the 1960s.
Selma's mayor called King the same thing in 1965 during a press conference about the movement's fight for voting rights. Hmmm. https://t.co/tMfU6w13Fe
— Carol Anderson (@ProfCAnderson) January 18, 2019
Steincross began working at KTVI in 1996. He has held positions as a general assignment reporter, co-anchor, and morning newscaster. It is unclear if his seniority played any part in him maintaining employment after Thursday’s incident.
However, a small petition has been started in support of Steincross’ termination. The petition has over 100 signatures.