As 2013 draws to a close, it is easy to look back and find numerous instances of hosts and guests who have made utterly outrageous comments on cable news network MSNBC. Judging from the ill-advised comments of host Melisa Harris-Perry and others during a recent segment, the trend does not appear to be slowing down.
Last weekend, Harris-Perry posted a photo of 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his family – including an adopted grandchild who happens to be black. Though MSNBC has become synonymous with labeling political opponents as racists, this particular segment is far more racially offensive than any out-of-context quote alluded to by Al Sharpton or Chris Matthews.
Along with actress Pia Glenn and comedian Dean Obeidallah, Harris-Perry led a lighthearted look at the past year. Unfortunately, when the subject turned to Romney, much of the humor dissipated.
After looking at the photo, Glenn asserted that “one of these things is not like the other,” an obvious reference to the adopted family member. While leftist celebrities are heralded for taking in children of all races and backgrounds, someone related to a Republican politician apparently does not receive the same accommodation.
Obeidallah confirmed his belief that the single black figure in Romney’s family portrait “sums up the diversity of the Republican Party, the RNC.”
The issue gained media attention Monday and, as of Tuesday morning, Harris-Perry had publicly apologized via several Twitter posts.
I am sorry. Without reservation or qualification. I apologize to the Romney family. #MHPapology
— Melissa Harris-Perry (@MHarrisPerry) December 31, 2013
Glenn also apologized through social media before posting some of the more colorful criticisms she has received as a result of her appearance.
Adoptive parents giving a child of ANY ethnicity a loving home,I apologize.I absolutely did not intend to harm you but it seems that I have. — Pia Glenn (@PiaGlenn) December 30, 2013
The Western Center for Journalism requested a comment from Obeidallah, who deferred to a column he wrote for the Daily Beast.
Though his rant technically contained an apology, the overall theme remained bashing conservatives. He said he is determined to continue exposing what he calls the “wrongs and hypocrisy” found on the right.
“Be it citing Jesus’ name to justify slashing programs that help the less fortunate, demonizing Muslims or gays for political gain, or trying to disenfranchise minority voters with voter ID laws,” he wrote. “And for those jokes and comments, I can assure you, I will never apologize.”
Of course, reporting on absurd generalizations made by MSNBC personalities hardly qualifies as news. The quick apology made after this exchange, however, signals the influence outraged viewers can have on a network and its staff.
Just as with A&E’s decision to reinstate “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson, the public was successful in expressing its disapproval. For a network struggling to even make a mark in the ratings, MSNBC cannot afford to alienate anyone else.