A Tribune Media-owned St. Louis television station has reversed its prior disciplinary decision and put a newscaster who used a racial slur during a broadcast on indefinite leave.
KTVI newscaster Kevin Steincross used a racial slur when pronouncing Dr. Martin Luther King’s name during an early morning broadcast on Jan. 17. He apologized on air later that day, claiming he made a mistake. The station agreed and did not take additional action.
However, an outcry from the community and various organizations has caused them to rethink that position. Steincross again apologized on Friday and said in a video statement on KTVI’s sister station, KPLR, that he was stepping away from the anchor desk indefinitely.
“Station management and I have agreed that I need to step away from the anchor desk for now,” said Steincross. “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.”
He added: “Rather than reporting the news, I’ve been the news, and a mistake I’ve made has been the topic of conversation throughout our region. Last week I apologized for speaking, I’ve since had the opportunity to reflect and to learn, what I should have done then and what I’m doing now is apologize for the pain my mistake caused. I am truly sorry.
“I know my words, especially in the context of Dr King’s name and heading into the weekend when we celebrated his birth, inflicted and reopened deep wounds for my friends, my colleagues, and you our viewers. I only hope that time and my efforts will show who I am and my heart. I will live the rest of my life knowing how much pain I caused.”
The St. Louis County NAACP and others demanded the station fire Steincross. The organization was joined by the Ethical Society of Police, a police group that represents primarily black officers.
KTVI management issued its own apology. “During the past week, we have met with or spoken to representatives from the NAACP, the Urban League, the Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists, and other civic groups in the area about the seriousness with which we approach issues of importance to our community. We are committed to the healing process and moving forward together through open dialogue and action. We look forward to continuing these discussions and taking specific action in the days ahead.”
Steincross was employed at KTVI since 1996, rising from general assignment reporter to co-anchor and morning newscaster.