MSNBC anchor Alison Morris is denying claims that she used a racial slur while covering the death of Kobe Bryant on Sunday. In a live broadcast, Morris could be heard stumbling over her words, and a momentary lapse made it sound like she had uttered the "N" word. Hours later, she apologized on Twitter.
"Earlier today, while reporting on the tragic news of Kobe Bryant's passing, I unfortunately stuttered on air, combining the names of the Knicks and the Lakers to say 'Nakers,'" she explained. "Please know I did not and would NEVER use a racist term. I apologize for the confusion this caused."
The segment circulated on social media on Sunday afternoon, with some viewers laughing over Morris' mistake. Others took it more seriously, calling her for termination from MSNBC. The network's official account retweeted Morris' apology on Sunday evening, signaling that the company endorsed her explanation.
Earlier today, while reporting on the tragic news of Kobe Bryant’s passing, I unfortunately stuttered on air, combining the names of the Knicks and the Lakers to say “Nakers.” Please know I did not & would NEVER use a racist term. I apologize for the confusion this caused.— Alison Morris (@AlisonMorrisNOW) January 26, 2020
"He was just the kind of athlete that was perfectly cast on the Los Angeles Nakers," Morris said in the segment itself.
Morris is a New York-based journalist who has been a weekday anchor for NBC News Now since July. She also hosts MSNBC on Sundays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET. She was previously a business reporter on Fox 5.
After Morris' apology, many other journalists spoke up for her on Twitter — particularly her MSNBC colleagues. They vouched for Morris' character and also pointed out how stressful it is to be live on the air. They urged viewers not to read too much into what they saw as a small pronunciation mistake.
Completely agree. You don’t know till you are in the heat of breaking news. Mistakes happen, we are human. I too know and work with @AlisonMorrisNOW and she is a kind, hard working professional. https://t.co/xvHgv4jdSt— yasminvossoughian (@yasminv) January 26, 2020
"She didn't [use a slur]," wrote The Beat editor Tiffany Cross. "Sounds like she just tripped over her words. Doesn't sound like a slur, what's being implied. It's challenging in that anchor chair with breaking news and multiple people talking in your ear and producers handing you wires etc."
"I know and work daily with [Alison Morris]," added MSNBC host Ali Velshi. "Like all my friends and colleagues, she doesn't have racial epithets in her vocabulary. In the heat of breaking, emotional news, we fast talkers stumble and combine words, or reach for the wrong word and correct mid-stream."0comments
Still, some did not want to see Morris let off the hook. Giancarlo Sopo, a writer for The Blaze and The Federalist, argued that MSNBC "regularly falsely accuse[s]" others of "racism and other forms of bigotry," and they should learn from this instance.
Sopo did say that he believed that Morris had not meant to use a racial slur.