Tuesday, May 06, 2008
WCCO Anchor Bill Hudson Lets Slip "Racial Slur" On The Air In Minneapolis, No Witch Hunt Results
In contrast to the witch hunt launched in Anchorage, Alaska against Woody and Wilcox when they told a rather raunchy joke on their KBFX morning show, Minnesotans reacted rather phlegmatically to a similar incident in Minneapolis. On May 3rd, 2008, WCCO weekday morning anchor Bill Hudson mispronounced the word "neighborhood" in such a fashion as to make it sound like a racial slur. Stories from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and Jossip.com. Also posted on Mnspeak.com, with 102 public comments posted to date.
While reading a story about Minneapolis’ Powderhorn Park (which is 42% white, 22% black, 22% Hispanic), Hudson apparently replaced the word “neighborhood” with “neiggerhood,” or, as for what it sounded like to viewers, “niggerhood.” Hudson was shocked when he heard about it afterwards, and profusely apologized for the on-air stumble, both on a subsequent broadcast and on the station’s website.
"It's just a very, very unfortunate incident. One I feel very sadly about. That's the unfortunate part of live television," said Hudson. "I have been receiving lots of nice e-mail from people. In my 28 years of broadcasting, this is the first time something like this has happened and it would have to be this. What I was attempting to say, and I remember stumbling over the word but I don't remember how it came out, was 'neighborhood'. It came out 'neiggerhood' but when you say it fast, what does it sound like", concluded Hudson.
Co-anchor Angela Davis, who is black, reacted professionally and imperceptibly. People who know Hudson, including Davis, say he is not the kind of soul to have this word on his heart or head. But one professional race-hustler tried to start a witch hunt. St. Paul's Human Rights Department Director Tyrone Terrill claims it's more than that, and said the offensive word sounds nothing like "neighborhood."
"This shouldn't happen in 2008. This is ridiculous," Terrill said. "I can't believe it. .... Everybody says, It's a mistake, it's a mistake, it's a mistake. They are not mistakes. I don't believe Don Imus' [slur] was a mistake, when he talked about the Rutgers women."
However, his efforts fizzled out due to lack of community interest. The Star-Tribune was the only mainstream media outlet, other than WCCO of course, to pick up the story. No fines, no suspension. The station handled it properly and the community reacted sensibly.
Of course there is one big difference between the Woody & Wilcox situation and the Bill Hudson situation. Woody & Wilcox clearly told an offensive joke over the air. There was no doubt. In contrast, Bill Hudson's faux pas could easily be written off as a slip of the tongue. Most people probably wouldn't have noticed it.