TIME Media

MSNBC Formally Apologizes for ‘Demeaning’ Tweet After Republican Party Boycott

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus at the National Press Club in Washington, in 2013.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus at the National Press Club in Washington, in 2013. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus at the National Press Club in Washington, in 2013. Manuel Balce Ceneta—AP

Suggested conservatives dislike biracial families

Updated Jan. 30, 2014, 5:05 p.m.

The cable news network apologized Thursday for a tweet suggesting Republicans “hate” biracial families, which sparked a boycott from the Republican National Committee.

The offending tweet from the network, posted Wednesday evening and since deleted, read “Maybe the rightwing will hate it, but everyone else will go awww: the adorable new#Cheerios ad w/ biracial family. http://t.co/SpB4rQDoAR.” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus sent a letter Thursday morning to network President Phil Griffin saying he banned all RNC staff from “appearing on, associating with, or booking any RNC surrogates on MSNBC,” and in a separate memo encouraged GOP elected officials and strategists to avoid the network as well.

Preibus wrote:

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.

I am confident that he will want to “lean forward” and prove to the American people that he does not condone this behavior. I look forward to his apology and corrective action.

Though MSNBC already apologized on Twitter, Priebus, knowing full-well the political upside of extending this controversy, said he wants a personal apology from Griffin. And he got one Thursday afternoon.

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.

I personally apologize to Mr. Priebus and to everyone offended.

At MSNBC, we believe in passionate, strong debate about the issues and we invite voices from all sides to participate. That will never change.

Priebus’s office accepted the apology, but continued on to say that it “will aggressively monitor the network to see whether their pattern of unacceptable behavior actually changes. We don’t expect their liberal bias to change, but we will call them out when political commentary devolves into personal and belittling attacks.”

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