Jack Harry has been a controversial anchor in Kansas City for more than 10 years. (KSHB Action News)
Kansas City-based news station KSHB 41 Action News is standing by sportscaster Jack Harry during a social media storm.
Last Sunday night, during the station’s weekly sports show which runs after NBC's Sunday Night Football, Harry referred to the University of Kansas men's basketball team as what sounded like "Gayhawks” as opposed to “Jayhawks.” The phrase “Gayhawk” has been used as a pejorative term toward that fan base and Harry has a reputation in that market for tweaking the KU fanbase. The video is here for you to judge:
“We believe he said Jayhawks,” said Carrie Hofmann, the news director of KSHB 41 Action News, an NBC affiliate. “It’s open to interpretation. I think there are people who hear Jayhawk, I think there are people who hear 'Gayhawk' and I think there are people who hear variations of those. I stand behind Jack. I believe Jack. I understand what people think and I certainly am sorry if people are interpreting it any other way.”
Hofmann said she spoke with Harry by phone on Monday after she learned of the video circulating among the blogosphere. “I would describe him as being flabbergasted,” Hofmann said, when asked about their conversation. “He said, 'I would have never said it.'”
Hofmann said she had seen the clip multiple times and spoken to people in the studio during the segment, as well as Harry’s on-air partner. “I did my own internal investigation,” Hofmann said. “I feel like we have given our statement. Jack has given his statement. We went on TV and said the same. We will let this play out.”
Hofmann said there have been a handful of telephone calls to the station complaining about the segment. Obviously, the station has been inundated with complaints on social media via its Twitter account and Facebook page. “He’s [Harry] always been unprofessional,” said Jason King, a former Kansas City Star and ESPN sports reporter who now works at Bleacher Report. “He just tries to get a rise out of people.”
Hofmann said Harry, who has been with the station since 2002, was never taken off the air. The broadcaster works Sunday to Thursday on the station’s 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. CT broadcast, as well as co-hosts a Sunday night show after Sunday Night Football.
“Jack is no stranger to controversy,” Hofmann said. “He is a vocal sportscaster. That’s who he is, he’s good at his job, and he has been a lightning rod. KU fans don’t like him generally.”