MSNBC president Phil Griffin apologized and fired a staff member who sent out an “offensive” tweet about Cheerios cereal’s new commercial showing a biracial family.
Griffin apologized today for the “outrageous and unacceptable” tweet, published on TwitLonger by CNN’s Brian Stelter. The apology statement confirmed the firing:
“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.”
Sean Spicer, Republican National Committee communications director confirmed the apology on Twitter as well:
— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) January 30, 2014
The original tweet read “Maybe the rightwing will hate it, but everyone else will go awww: the adorable new #Cheerios ad w/ biracial family.”
The GOP also posted a memo on its website confirming Griffin’s apology and noting that “we will aggressively monitor the network to see whether the pattern of unacceptable behavior actually changes.”
The commercial, titled “Gracie,” was created for the 2014 Super Bowl, airing Sunday, Feb. 2. See the ad below.
RNC demanded apology
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus had demanded a public apology from MSNBC president over the tweet lest the RNC boycott the network. In a Jan. 30 letter to Griffin, Priebus said
“Until you personally and publicly apologize for this behavior, I have banned all RNC staff from appearing on, associating with, or booking any RNC surrogates on MSNBC.”
In the letter, Priebus goes on to cite MSNBC’s recent history of controversial remarks. As you may remember, Alec Baldwin and MSNBC announced a “mutual parting” after the actor was recorded on a New York City street calling a photographer a “c**ks**king f*g.” Then, Martin Bashir resigned after saying someone should “sh*t” in Sarah Palin’s mouth. Finally, in late December, Melissa Harris-Perry apologized numerous times after hosting a segment that mocked Mitt Romney’s Christmas card, which included an adopted black grandchild.
Priebus’s letter further stated:
“Sadly, such petty and demeaning attacks have become a pattern at your network. With increasing frequency many of your hosts have personally denigrated and demeaned Americans — especially conservative and Republican Americans–without even attempting to further meaningful political dialogue.”
Further, Priebus argued that “the entire network is poisoned because of this pattern of behavior.”
Following Thursday’s apology, Priebus said on Fox News Channel’s Hannity program that he is considering MSNBC “on probation,” according to Deadline.
MSNBC previously apologized on Twitter for the tweet.
Earlier, this account tweeted an offensive line about the new Cheerios ad. We deeply regret it. It does not reflect the position of msnbc.
— msnbc (@msnbc) January 30, 2014
Likewise, MSNBC.com’s Executive Editor Richard Wolffe also responded to the controversy, the New York Daily News added that
The Cheerios tweet from @msnbc was dumb, offensive and we’ve taken it down. That’s not who we are at msnbc.
— Richard Wolffe (@richardwolffedc) January 30, 2014
Besides the RNC boycott and complaint letter, numerous tweeters sent in their own photos of biracial families under the hashtag #MyRightWingBiracialFamily, according to conservative news site the Blaze.
Earlier this month, MSNBC’s Griffin defended the network’s handling of the recent controversies.
iMediaEthics has written to MSNBC for confirmation and will update with any response.
UPDATE: 1/30/2014 4:37 PM EST Added in news about GOP memo
UPDATE: 1/31/2014 11:42 AM EST Added in Priebus’s comments on Hannity