MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, who, along with her guests, mocked a photo of Mitt Romney and his adopted black grandson, made an emotional apology on her show for her “poor judgment”:
“Whatever the intent was, the reality is that the segment proceeded in a way that was offensive, and showing the photo in that context, that segment, was poor judgment. So without reservation or qualification, I apologize to the Romney family,” Harris-Perry said, her voice choking up while her eyes moistened but failed to produce tangible tears on her cheeks.
Harris-Perry and her show’s guests previously mocked a photo of Romney with his adopted black grandson, with one guest even saying that the photo was representative of the largely white Republican party, which tries to “find the one black person” for photo ops.
Harris-Perry is the latest liberal to fall victim to the liberal-created virus that ensnares people who publicly say things that can be interpreted as offensive or politically incorrect. As The Daily Caller noted, three straight liberals went down at the end of 2013 in free speech controversies. Alec Baldwin lost his MSNBC show for calling a photographer a “c**ksucking fag.” Martin Bashir was fired from MSNBC for comments he made about crapping in Sarah Palin’s mouth. Washington Post syndicated columnist Richard Cohen was roundly lambasted for comments he made about traditional Americans’ views on interracial marriage.
Considering the fact that Baldwin’s and Bashir’s apologies didn’t do the trick, you wonder if those tears shed by Harris-Perry were less about being sorry for her racist opinions and more about a desperate attempt to salvage her job.
Regardless, Howard Kurtz looks at MSNBC and wonders if the rude, loutish behavior is really accidental. Could it be network policy to generate controversy and goose the ratings of the low-rated network?
Go back a bit further and there are more transgressions. Ed Schultz apologized for calling Laura Ingraham a “right-wing slut” and was suspended for a week. Chris Hayes said he was “uncomfortable” calling fallen soldiers “heroes” because that could be seen as justifying more war. He apologized: “As many have rightly pointed out, it’s very easy for me, a TV host, to opine about the people who fight our wars, having never dodged a bullet or guarded a post or walked a mile in their boots.”
Just about everyone on television, including me, makes mistakes. And cable news can be a rough neighborhood. I’m sure some folks are at this moment scrambling to dig up incendiary comments made on Fox, which shouldn’t be difficult. I’m not crazy about pundits calling their opponents idiots and liars. But not since Glenn Beck was branding Barack Obama a “racist” with a “deep-seated hatred” of white people has anything been at the Bashir level, and that was five years ago.
MSNBC is now 85 percent opinion, according to a recent Pew study. The channel doesn’t have its own reporters and has no problem having such commentators as Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews anchor news events, including conventions and election nights.
With so many opinions being flung around, perhaps there is subtle pressure to push the boundaries of acceptable commentary in an effort to break through the static.
Personally, I hope things settle down at MSNBC. It’s good for the country to have three healthy cable news networks and a vigorous debate that doesn’t descend into offensive bile.
If it’s “subtle” pressure, it’s not very subtle. But really, I think what’s going on at MSNBC is the same thing that’s going on at many liberal blogs and in the liberal commentariat, not to mention in liberal salons and liberal coffee klatches all over the country. I’ll explain on the next page.