On Thursday, MSNBC President Phil Griffin was forced to apologise over an offensive tweet sent out by the network’s official Twitter account. He also fired the person responsible for the tweet, which caused a swarm of outrage.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus launched a boycott of the network until Griffin would apologise. Priebus said in a memo that no RNC staff or surrogates would appear on the network until the apology happened. Griffin took swift action to salvage the situation.
But there’s a fundamental problem with MSNBC firing the staffer responsible for the tweet. The original version of the post contained this sentence:
“Forget the Seahawks and the Broncos: there may be an outcry from the right, but most viewers are likely to declare this ad the Super Bowl winner.”
It was since changed to remove the phrase, “from the right.”
But the phrasing in the original story when compared to the tweet is not much different. Is “the right” more offensive than “right wing?” Is “hating it” more offensive than “an outcry?” Did the substitution of going “awww” for declaring the ad “the Super Bowl winner” push it over the top?
It’s hard to discern what was extra-offensive about the tweet in it being a fireable offence.
As The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple wrote on Thursday, both the tweet and the post suggest the larger, recurring theme at play — one that has been seen in recent episodes with Martin Bashir, Alec Baldwin, and Melissa Harris-Perry.
Yet this string of meae culpae suggests that the apology may be morphing into an enabling device for the network’s tendentious and divisive attitudes. Sometimes a bad tweet represents the errant and unrepresentative thoughts of some employee managing the social-media accounts. And sometimes it represents institutional
mores and prejudices.
MSNBC hasn’t responded to requests for comment about the incident.
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