Distilled, repellent race-baiting. The tweet was quickly taken down with an apology issued, but the Republican National Committee isn’t in a forgiving mood. Reince Priebus blasted out the following memo to all RNC staff, surrogates and strategists, urging Republicans of all stripes to refuse to appear on the network until its president personally apologizes for this most recent episode in an interminable string of nasty racial attacks against conservatives:
Unfortunately, this tweet is just the latest in a pattern of poor statements by MSNBC and its hosts. This morning I left a message with MSNBC President Phil Griffin to express my displeasure. I have sent him a letter demanding that he personally, as president of the network, take responsibility and apologize for the disgusting tweet. Until he takes internal corrective action and personally apologizes—not just to the RNC but to all right-of-center Americans—I’m banning all RNC staff from appearing on, associating with, or booking any RNC surrogates on MSNBC. As an elected official, strategist, or surrogate, I’m asking for you to agree to the same. We can have our political disagreements with MSNBC, but using biracial families to launch petty and ridiculous political attacks is low, even by MSNBC’s standards. It only coarsens our political discourse. MSNBC hosts—including Alec Baldwin, Martin Bashir, Melissa Harris-Perry, Alex Wagner, and Ronan Farrow just to name a few—have had a troubling streak in the last several weeks of making comments that belittle and demean Americans without furthering any thoughtful dialogue. Perhaps it’s time for the executives at MSNBC to consider whether their network is upholding a meaningful journalistic mission. This is more than just a tweet or an offhand comment. This is part of a pattern of behavior that has gotten markedly worse, and until Phil Griffin personally apologizes and takes corrective action, we cannot be part of this network’s toxic programming.
Honestly, this deleted tweet isn’t anywhere near the top of MSNBC’s roster of ignominy, at least in my book. Melissa Harris-Perry’s “humorous” riff on Mitt Romney’s adopted black grandson was worse, as was Michael Eric Dyson’s despicable attack on Clarence Thomas, and Chris Matthews’ ignorant comparison of Mitch McConnell to a South African apartheid leader. And those are just a few examples I plucked from recent memory. So why might Priebus and company be picking this particular incident to publicly shame the network? A few possibilities: (1) They’ve been teetering on the brink of issuing an ultimatum for awhile, and this was merely the last straw. (2) MSNBC has already admitted wrongdoing here, so they’re in a vulnerable position from which they can’t really mount a defense of themselves. If the RNC wants to embarrass Phil Griffin for the unmitigated shinola-show he’s presiding over, why not pounce when he’s already backed into a corner? (3) It’s clever and cheeky payback for the channel’s breathless and hysterical coverage of Chris Christie. Priebus may be hoisting MSNBC by its own petard vis-a-vis leaders being responsible for a “culture” they’ve permitted to fester on their watch. In light of the dearth of evidence against Christie himself, the network’s hosts have done a lot of concern-trolling about how Christie’s style of leadership fostered an environment that allowed abuses of power to take place (or, you know, not take place). Well, over the last few months alone, MSNBC has parted ways with two anchors — one for demonstrating his penchant for dropping anti-gay slurs during fits of rage, and the other for stating outright that someone ought to defecate in Sarah Palin’s mouth. A third anchor has been forced to deliver a tearful apology over her show’s content. And now the network’s axed a tweet casually accusing the political Right of hating biracial families.
Questions: Why does MSNBC employ so many flaming jackholes as on air talent? And why do these people seem to believe they have free reign to spout any thought that may pop into their head, no matter how vile or mean-spirited? Who is responsible for the network’s…climate of hate, to borrow a term? I’ll leave you with a flashback to why Priebus must be relishing this opportunity to twist the knife. He has a bit of a history with MSNBC, you see, typified by a wild-eyed Chris Matthews calling him “garbage” (for alleged race-baiting, ironically) at the 2012 Republican National Convention. Priebus fired back, labeling Matthews “the biggest jerk in the room:”
Update: The RNC wins this round:
“The tweet last night was outrageous and unacceptable. We immediately acknowledged that it was offensive and wrong, apologized, and deleted it. We have dismissed the person responsible for the tweet,” Griffin wrote in a statement. “I personally apologize to Mr. Priebus and to everyone offended,” he continued. “At msnbc we believe in passionate, strong debate about the issues and we invite voices from all sides to participate. That will never change.”
Update (Allahpundit): Erik Wemple of WaPo reports that Griffin’s getting tired of the weekly “sorry for offending everyone” apologies:
Griffin, says one of the sources, is as “angry” as his colleagues have seen him. In a meeting, he warned of serious and immediate repercussions and ripped the staff about the recent bout of stupid actions, according to the sources.
Lauren Skowronski, a spokeswoman for the network, e-mailed this statement: “What you’re hearing is an exaggeration but obviously this is a serious matter that’s being handled internally. Phil has spoken to his team to make it clear that these incidents are unacceptable.”