Lee Cruse is the Kentucky talk show host who has been dismissed after what many people said was a racist joke about the new royal baby. On May 9, Cruse laughingly praised a British radio host who had compared Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s newborn baby to a chimpanzee. Cruse mentioned the British radio host, laughed, and said, “this is my new favorite disc jockey.”
In a statement released on May 22, WLEX said that it had “decided to part ways with Lee Cruse.” The station wrote, “This wasn’t a decision made lightly. LEX 18 is committed to reflecting our diverse audiences through our coverage and to upholding equitable, diverse, and inclusive practices in our workplace. We stand by our commitment to a respectful work environment and respect for all of our viewers.”
Here’s what you need to know about Lee Cruse:
1. He Apologized & Called Himself a ‘Full Blown Moron Idiot’ a Day After His Controversial Comment
Cruse made an on-air apology a day after he praised the British radio host who compared the royal baby to a chimpanzee. Cruse said that he had not read his script before going on air and that he had made a mistake which he regretted.
“That’s not me. That isn’t me at all,” Cruse said, in the May 10 apology. 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.
The British radio host, Danny Baker, had tweeted a picture of a couple holding hands with a chimpanzee who was dressed in clothes. The caption read, “Royal baby leaves hospital.” Cruse said that he hadn’t seen the tweet and wasn’t aware of the racist joke when he referred to the radio host, Danny Baker, as his “new favorite disc jockey.”
The NAACP sharply criticized Cruse and called for WLEX to take action, although they did not ask for Cruse to be fired. “Rather than celebrating the birth of a child as an emblem of royalty for people of African descent, Mr. Cruse chose to continue the disrespect, hate and ridicule that had already been deemed to be inappropriate by another television station,” the group said.
2. An Online Petition Is Calling for Cruse to Get His Job Back
More than 7 thousand people have signed an online petition through Change.org calling on WLEX to rehire Lee Cruse. The petition says it hopes to get up to 10,000 signatures. The petition says that Cruse is a “good man” and not a racist. It reads,
“Lee Cruise was fired by lex 18 after making a comment that a few perceived as racist. We a community as a whole, can not just up and say that a word is racist, when it’s not meant in a derogatory way toward a particular race gender or religion. Lee is a good man who is in no way racist. Please share this petition to let LEX 18 know that there are viewers do not approve.”
3. He’s a Stand Up Comic Who Says He Believes in Doing ‘Clean Comedy’
Before his dismissal, Cruse co-hosted “Live with Lee & Hayley” and appeared regularly on “Hey Kentucky.” He is also a stand-up comic who performs regularly in comedy clubs. Back in 2017, Cruse gave an interview with LEO Weekly in which he explained that he believes in doing “clean” comedy, in part because it makes him more marketable. He said,
“When I host the open mics here in Lexington, I always try to steer the new guys away from doing humor they couldn’t do on “The Tonight Show,” or in front of a corporate audience, because that’s where the bulk of the money is going to be made. And you can always dirty it up later, if that’s what you want to do. Some people find it an identity thing, or freedom of speech. To me it’s not about those things. It’s about marketability. It’s about giving yourself as much longitude and latitude as a comic to be able to make money and support yourself.”
The NAACP and many others sharply criticized Cruse after he praised a British radio host who had compared the royal baby to a chimpanzee. The NAACP called for WLEX to take action, although they did not ask for Cruse to be fired. “Rather than celebrating the birth of a child as an emblem of royalty for people of African descent, Mr. Cruse chose to continue the disrespect, hate and ridicule that had already been deemed to be inappropriate by another television station,” the group said.
4. He Grew Up in Winchester, Kentucky, the Son of a Basketball Coach
Cruse was born in Winchester, Kentucky, the oldest of three siblings. When he was was a boy, his family relocated to Lexington, where he grew up. His father was a basketball coach, and Cruse played basketball too, although he’s said that the experience was “horrific,” since he wasn’t a talented player and his father put pressure on him to do better.
Cruse, who also works as a stand-up comic, says he always loved watchinng the late night shows. He told LEO Weekly, “When I was 4 years old, I grew up wanting to watch Johnny Carson and things like that. But my thing was that I wanted to be David Letterman. Looking back, it’s probably because my dad loved him. He thought he was hilarious.”
5. He & His Wife Elizabeth Have Been Married for Nearly Two Decades
Lee and his wife, Elizabeth, have been married since July 2000. Elizabeth grew up in Monticello, Kentucky, according to her Facebook page. She studied at the University of Kentucky after graduating from Wayne County High School.
Elizabeth is the owner and president of the Miss Priss pageant store in Lexington. The store specializes in gowns and pageant swimsuits for proms and beauty pageants.