By LARRY VAUGHT
WLEX-TV’s decision to dismiss Lee Cruse for insensitive remarks in reaction to what a BBC radio broadcaster said using a chimpanzee to represent Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s newborn baby drew immediate reaction from Cruse’s supporters — and there are many — as well as those who had called for WLEX-TV to do more than just suspend him for a week like it did initially.
Cruse apologized on air for his remarks and having known him for 20 years, I had no reason to doubt the sincerity of his apology or his angst over that he said because he knew he messed up.
Hayley Harmon, his co-host of “live with Lee & Hayley” daily at noon, said she was devastated by the decision. Another former co-worker, Kristen Pflum, who is returning to Lexington from Chicago to join FOX56, said she was “sickened” by the news. “I will defend Lee’s character to anyone who wants to listen,” Pflum posted on Twitter.
WLEX vice president and general manager Pat Dalbey said the station was “committed to reflecting our diverse audiences” in its coverage in a released statement about Cruse’s dismissal.
An online petition is available for those wanting WLEX to rehire Cruse. Many social media users have indicated they might boycott the station for dismissing Cruse, who has been with the station about 20 years.
I’ve not talked to Cruse but I know one thing — he would not want anyone to boycott WLEX where his many, many friends work. That’s the last thing he would want for those he’s worked so well with for many, many years.
When WLEX decided to part ways with me a few months ago as an online contributor, Cruse was one of the first to reach out to me. That’s just him.
Do I think he’s a racist? Never ever. Do I think he made a horrible mistake? Absolutely.
I have no idea what the future will hold for my friend but here’s hoping one mistake does not identify him for the rest of his life. He’s a talented, funny, caring man who made a big mistake that he owned immediately.
WLEX won’t be the same without him but the station will survive and hopefully all of us will learn something from this incident about what we say and write. I just know I feel bad for a friend just like I do for those who were insulted by what he said because there are no winners in this whole situation.
I’m not a political person and debated whether even to touch this subject. But I prefer a world where we can learn from our mistakes and all get along and the only positive scenario here for anyone is that we all learn something from what happened to Cruse, including Lee, and find a way to move on together.