A lot of people found 2013 to be a bad year. MSBNC had a really bad year.
The ratings have been in the toilet. They moved Ed Schultz out of prime-time to a Saturday afternoon (!) dead zone and then back to just-out of prime time though his show wasn’t getting clobbered as badly as the hapless Chris Hayes is by the invincible O’Reilly Factor.
MSBNC gave Alec Baldwin a “talk” show. At least, I guess it was. It got yanked off the air so fast over Baldwin’s bad temper and big mouth that it’s hard to remember what kind of show it was supposed to be.
Martin Bashir lost his afternoon show for suggesting someone should defecate in Sarah Palin’s mouth.
Just to wrap things up in a big red bow, on the Melissa Harris-Perry show, the panel had a big tee-hee over Mitt Romney welcoming a new grandson, an adopted Black baby named Kieran Romney, to the family and hilarity ensued on the show.
“Everybody loves a baby picture,” Harris-Perry said, “and this was one that really, a lot of people had emotions about this baby picture this year. This is the Romney family. And, of course, there on Governor Romney’s knee is his adopted grandson, who is an African-American, adopted African-American child, Kieran Romney.”
As Harris-Perry made the introduction, panelist Pia Glenn sang “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just isn’t the same,” a tune whose original lyrics read “one of these things doesn’t belong.”
“And that little baby, front and center, would be the one,” she added.
“And isn’t he the most gorgeous?” Harris-Perry said. “My goal is that in 2040, the biggest thing of the year will be the wedding between Kieran Romney and North West. Can you imagine Mitt Romney and Kanye West as in-laws?”
Comedian Dean Obeidallah chimed in by reducing the baby to a token. “I think this picture is great,” he said. “It really sums up the diversity of the Republican party, the RNC. At the convention, they find the one black person.”
I don’t like Mitt Romney and he would have been a lousy president, but while he is rich elitist and exhibits no particular concern for other races it doesn’t by default mean he’s overtly hostile to them either. But even if he was that’s no reason to make fun of his Black grandson.
Harris-Perry quickly issued an apology on Twitter and her MSNBC page, but it was too late. She had handed her critics a sword and they pounced to impale her with it accusing her of reverse-racism against the Romneys.
At the beginning of her Saturday program Harris-Perry issued another apology to Governor Romney’s family and those she offended with her failed attempt at humor, but didn’t make it though the segment before breaking down tearfully.
Romney was scheduled to appear on Fox News the next day where he was certain to be asked about the controversy, but the blogosphere wasn’t about to wait for him as one critic sneered, “She’s only sorry because her producer/ station caught so much backlash, they knew they needed to apologize. I seriously doubt it’s heartfelt. Even abusers can turn on the tears when apologizing. Not buying into her act.”
I’ve met Melissa Harris-Perry. She’s an academic, not an actress.
When someone says they’re sorry and it’s them saying it and not a spokesperson, agent or some crisis manager, it should be accepted as genuine and heartfelt until proven otherwise. Everyone screws up. It’s how you handle the screw-up and move past it that matters.
Some folks insist on having their pound of flesh and will keep carving until they get it.
She fucked up. She apologized multiple times. The object of the insult accepted the apology.
On her Right flank, MHP is taking flak for an apology judged insincere. On her Left flank, MHP is catching hell for apologizing at all. They’re both full of it. Only the blindest partisans and the terminally cynical would doubt the sincerity of the apology.
Romney didn’t seem to as he said on Fox, “I think people recognize, and the folks at MSNBC who have apologized recognize, people like me are fair targets: If you get in the political game, you can expect incoming. For children, that’s beyond the line. I think they understand that and feel that as well. I think it’s a heartfelt apology, and I think for that reason we hold no ill will whatsoever.”
That should be it. Of course it’s not.
Mitt Romney didn’t have to accept Harris-Perry’s apology as being sincere. That he did speaks to his compassion and understanding that human beings–even ones on MSNBC–fail and when they try to do the right thing after doing the wrong thing, they should be forgiven.
Nothing has changed how I feel about Harris-Perry and her guests heavy-handed and dim-witted attempt at humor at a child’s expense. But let’s not overreact here, okay? This isn’t the first person in the media to screw up and go after a kid or any other soft target. MHP used poor judgment and she got rightfully called out for it.
I hope she learns from her mistakes and grows from the experience. Too often others in the same position haven’t apologized. Not sincerely, not insincere or at all.
For every one Harris-Perry royally effing up there are dozens of examples of a Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Bill Maher, Al Sharpton or Alec Baldwin saying something simultaneously stupid and horrific and any apology, if one is offered at all, comes grudgingly and delivered with a smirk, a snicker and a wink.
I didn’t see any of that in Harris-Perry’s apology. I guess her haters did.
In the depressingly vast sea of Whiteness of cable TV talking heads, Melissa Harris-Perry provides a shot of not only much needed racial diversity, but a degree of intelligence, wit and class to a medium conspicuously short of all the above.
It’s time to forgive and forget and mostly forget.