Fayette County

Kentucky NBC station evaluates further after host’s ‘egregious’ error that some called racist

Anchor Lee Cruse apologizes for racist joke made on air

WLEX Lee Cruse apologizes after praising BBC DJ who compared the Royal Baby with a chimpanzee.
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WLEX Lee Cruse apologizes after praising BBC DJ who compared the Royal Baby with a chimpanzee.

WLEX 18 is “evaluating ... further” after host Lee Cruse apologized on air for earlier remarks on ‘Live with Lee & Haley’ that others called racist.

Cruse said he was sorry May 10, one day after his reaction to a BBC radio broadcaster who was fired for using a chimpanzee to represent Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s newborn baby. Initially, Cruse laughed and said, “this is my new favorite disc jockey.”

“The statements expressed were inappropriate and do not reflect who we are as a company,” WLEX 18 Vice President and GM Pat Dalbey said Thursday in a written statement. “WLEX is evaluating the matter further.”

On May 10, Cruse acknowledged that he had made an “egregious error” the previous day.

The photo tweeted by former BBJ DJ, Danny Baker, showed a couple holding hands with a chimpanzee dressed in clothes with the caption, “Royal baby leaves hospital.” Baker later said the posting was meant as a joke.

Cruse said he did not read his script before going on air and was unaware of the racist actions of the BBC disc jockey. Cruse said the mistake bothered him all day.

“That’s not me. That isn’t me at all,” Cruse said May 10. He later called himself a “full-blown moron idiot” and said he deserved to be called the “vile and ugly” names people were calling him on social media.

Dalbey said Cruse demonstrated a lack of judgment and both the station and Cruse regret the mistake.

Cruse has remained on air since his statement a week ago. Dalbey did not say if Cruse was punished.

The remark was shared by many people locally as well as by FTVLive.com, a prominent television industry website.

One social media user said she was very disappointed by Cruse’s comment. Another said Cruse was “very disrespectful” and he should get off the air.

Some people on social media accepted Cruse’s apology. One woman called it a sincere apology and said, “I could tell u were really upset.” Another woman told Cruse “we all make mistakes.”

“It’s how we handle those mistakes that show our true character. Just from now on please listen to @Haley_Harmon,” said the woman, Rhonda Jasper Marks.

Not everyone accepted his apology. Shaun Knox said “the rest of us think you just showed your true colors and are deeply disappointed.”

“There is an extreme problem with anyone referring to a black person as a monkey,” Knox said. “If you don’t understand the issue then you’re part of the problem.”

Cruse is also a regular contributor to the station’s “Hey Kentucky” show hosted by Matt Jones. Cruse is a stand-up comedian and his listing on Lexington’s Comedy Off Broadway says “his self-deprecating style and sarcasm is biting without any vulgarity.”