Mediaite has the full background but here’s the nutshell. A lefty blog published an item this morning noting that Romney had used a slogan that was once used by the KKK, and hey, if it’s okay to call Obama a socialist based on his class-warfare rhetoric, shouldn’t it be okay to call Romney a Klansman? The crack MSNBC news team, whose fingers are forever on the pulse of the liberal blogosphere, naturally picked up the item and tossed it in as a snickering aside during one of their quickie interstitial segments. Which, for reasons I don’t quite understand, apparently enraged the network brass:
An NBC insider tells Mediaite that NBC News President Steve Capus addressed this story this morning at an editorial meeting, and stressed the need for accuracy, fairness, and caution before proceeding. Capus is reportedly furious at the way the story was handled, and MSNBC is in the process of apologizing to the Romney campaign.
It was a toxic, racially charged cheap shot, completely unfair to Mitt Romney, and therefore seemingly perfect for MSNBC. And yet they did in fact apologize, farming the task out to Chris Matthews — a guy who’s done hour-long specials on this network smearing tea partiers along these same lines. I’m honestly baffled as to why they cracked the whip in this case. At first I thought maybe they were worried about alienating a prospective nominee before the general election campaign, when they’re going to want access for their political coverage. But that can’t be right; they’ll be crapping on Romney or Gingrich or whomever nonstop next year no matter what that means for their reporters. My best guess, then, is that it has to do with the timing. The KKK segment aired this morning during their, ahem, “news” programming, not during the endless bloc of left-wing talking-points shows in the afternoon and evening. Maybe Capus is trying to hold onto a shred of impartiality by leaving the liberal blog-crawl material for O’Donnell and Schultz at night or to the network’s contributors, who can launch the nastiest accusations at the right without fear of rebuke so long as it’s clearly marked as opinion.
Or maybe there’s no real rhyme or reason at all. Remember, they let Olbermann rail against right-wing fascists for years, but when he dared make a cash contribution to a couple of Democrats, that was a bridge too far. Click the image to watch.