St. Louis County NAACP and others demanded that the station fire Steincross, saying that whether or not it was a mistake, it was grounds for termination…
KTVI-TV newscaster Kevin Steincross made the announcement in a lengthy video statement that aired Friday afternoon on KTVI’s sister station, KPLR: “Station management and I have agreed that I need to step away from the anchor desk for now. I will begin working to regain your trust. I know the work I need to do will take time, and I will do everything I can to address the pain I caused.”
Steincross was speaking on KTVI’s morning news show Jan. 17 when he said an upcoming local tribute to the civil rights icon would honor “Martin Luther coon Jr.,” speaking a racial slur that has been used against black people.
He apologized on air a few hours later and said the pronunciation was a mistake. Station management agreed and did not take additional disciplinary action.
But the St. Louis County NAACP and others demanded that the station fire Steincross, saying that whether or not it was a mistake, it was grounds for termination. The organization was joined by the Ethical Society of Police, a police membership organization that represents primarily black officers.
KTVI management apologized Friday and said it met with the NAACP, the Urban League, the Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists and others during the last week to talk.
“We are committed to the healing process and moving forward together through open dialogue and action,” the station said in a written statement. “We look forward to continuing these discussions and taking specific action in the days ahead.”
St. Louis County NAACP President John Gaskin said Friday that Steincross’ suspension was a result of the pressure they put on the station and its owners, Tribune Media.
“Had we not called for his termination we genuinely believe that they would not have done anything in the first place,” Gaskin said. “I think the Tribune needs to do some very in-depth soul searching.”
Gaskin said the NAACP would meet with the station and would be willing to meet with Steincross.
“It is very unfortunate what occurred, however, I think there is an opportunity to move forward in terms of how we can learn from this,” Gaskin said. “I hope we don’t forget this, but that we can learn from this, and move the region and community forward so that this never happens again.”
Steincross has been working at KTVI since 1996 in roles as a general assignment reporter, co-anchor and morning newscaster, according to his biography on Fox2Now.com.
He was the latest in a series of broadcasters across the country who inserted the same slur into King’s name on air. The trend sparked debates over whether they revealed racism or were just mistakes.
©2019 St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.