CBS46’s Ella Dorsey angers viewers who believed she was comparing a black man and two gorillas in a photo

Originally posted Tuesday, April 22, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Ella Dorsey, a meteorologist for CBS46, angered viewers Monday on Peachtree TV during the 9 p.m. newscast who thought she was comparing a black man in a photo to two gorillas in the same shot.

The two anchors Shon Gables and Thomas Roberts were showing a viral selfie photo of a black park ranger in the Democratic Republic of Congo with gorillas and Dorsey said, “Isn’t it amazing? You can see the similarities between you and them.”

There was momentary awkward silence as Gables’ smile disappeared and she looked down, appearing embarrassed, according to Maya Teague, a viewer who saw it happen live. 

When she said it, she was looking directly at Roberts and it’s clear she wasn’t referring to the park ranger because she said “you and them.” But she paused between the words “similarities” and “between you and them,” which created that brief moment of awkwardness. 

Roberts then said, “My posture is not that good.”

View this post on Instagram

You might have recently seen caretakers Mathieu and Patrick’s amazing selfie with female orphaned gorillas Ndakazi and Ndeze inside the Senkwekwe center at Virunga National Park. We’ve received dozens of messages about the photo. YES, it’s real! Those gorilla gals are always acting cheeky so this was the perfect shot of their true personalities! Also, it’s no surprise to see these girls on their two feet either—most primates are comfortable walking upright (bipedalism) for short bursts of time. Guys, if you shared our gorilla selfie post, please share our Earth Day posts as well! Conserving Virunga’s amazing wildlife is a constant challenge for the Park and our work wouldn’t be possible without your support. Matching funds have been pledged on every donation to the Park today, up to a total of $25,000—giving us the opportunity to raise $50,000 for Virunga! Visit virunga.org/donate or click the link in our bio to get involved and keep sharing our posts! Thank you! *We want to emphasize that these gorillas are in an enclosed sanctuary for orphans to which they have lived since infancy. The caretakers at Senkwekwe take great care to not put the health of the gorillas in danger. These are exceptional circumstances in which the photo was taken. It is never permitted to approach a gorilla in the wild. #gorillaselfie #gorilla #mountaingorilla #mountaingorillaselfie #selfie #earthday #earthday2019 #virunga #virunganationalpark #congo #drcongo #rdc #drc #protecttheplanet #happyearthday #wildlife #wildlifeconservation #conservation #natureconservation

A post shared by Virunga National Park (@virunganationalpark) on

The station received several calls and emails from upset viewers who thought she was referencing the park ranger. Teague on Twitter posted this to Dorsey: “WOW! You notice the similarities between an African man and a gorilla? Focus on the weather, Sunshine.” She then asked anchor Gables, who is black: “Please educate your coworkers on subliminal #racism.”

Dorsey, in a Twitter response, said she was actually comparing the gorillas to the white anchor Roberts, not the park ranger. Roberts and Dorsey had previously been making jokes about planking in the newsroom on social media and that’s why she referenced posture.

“Hi Maya,” Dorsey wrote. “I meant sililarities[sic] in Thomas’s posture and the gorilla. I never meant between the man and the gorilla. Sorry if I offended you! Thank you for watching.”

Teague, in a Messenger note, said Dorsey ‘was a fumbling mess on air. Ella’s Twitter apology mirrors what happened live: she pivoted to discuss the gorilla’s ‘posture.’”

After watching it again, Teague added: “As a public figure, she has to be more responsible. Comparing ANYONE to a gorilla just isn’t sound journalism to me... it just wasn’t appropriate. Period.”

 

This happened just eight days after Dorsey complained on social media she had received death threats because the station interrupted the Masters golf tournament on CBS with tornado warnings

Dorsey is currently covering for former chief meteorologist Paul Ossmann, who was abruptly let go from the station without explanation earlier this month

Dorsey’s boss and news director Steve Doerr declined to comment.

>> RELATED: A CBS morning host utters “colored woman” in 2014

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
X