Jack Kelly: MSNBC tweet prompts backlash against network

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Are people at MSNBC more vile than clueless, or more clueless than vile?

This chicken/​egg conundrum for our times was prompted by a network tweet Wednesday promoting a story about an ad that would run during the Super Bowl:

“Maybe the rightwing will hate it, but everyone else will go awww: the adorable new Cheerios ad w/​biracial family.”

The tweet linked to a story by Gabriela Resto-Montero which said: “the breakfast cereal’s new ad features the same fictional biracial family that sparked a conservative backlash last year.”

Nothing in their rants or in MSNBC’s original story gave clues about the politics of the bigots. Ms. Resto-Montero made the conservative thing up.

To smear so many without a shred of proof was vile. But MSNBC set a world record for cluelessness when it tweeted the smear just a month after one of its talk show hosts mocked Mitt Romney for having a black grandson.

Conservative journalist Michelle Malkin (ne’e Maglalang), a Filipina in a mixed-race marriage, tweeted a photo of her children under the hashtag: “MyRightWingBiracialFamily” and urged others to do the same.

“Counter the Left’s evil narrative,” she said. “Use social media to expose & crush it. Flood MSNBC with your pics.”

At least 75 mixed-race families did just that. The thousands of people slamming MSNBC on Twitter that night may have exceeded the audiences for some of its programs. MSNBC deleted the offensive tweet and removed references to conservatives in Ms. Resto-Montero’s story.

“The Cheerios tweet from MSNBC was dumb, offensive and we’ve taken it down,” said Executive Editor Richard Wolfe. “That’s not who we are at MSNBC.”

Au contraire, said Erik Wemple, who blogs about the news media for the Washington Post. “The tweet appears to a careful observer to define precisely what MSNBC is becoming.”

Blogger Dan Riehl found more than 100 examples of MSNBC hosts, reporters or guests declaring conservative criticism of President Barack Obama is motivated by racism.

*When Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell noted Mr. Obama has played golf much more often than any president before him, it was a racist attempt to link the president to pro golfer Tiger Woods’ sexual pecadilloes, said talk show host Lawrence O’Donnell.

*The term “Obamacare” was “conceived by a group of wealthy white men who needed a way to put themselves above and apart from a black man,” said talk show host Melissa Harris-Perry, who mocked Mitt Romney’s grandson.

*Republicans are trying to defund Obamacare only because “there is a black man in the White House,” said talk show host Ed Schultz.

Sixty percent of respondents in a Quinnipiac poll — including 20 percent of blacks and 51 percent of Hispanics — disapprove of how the president is handling health care. As millions more lose their health insurance or their doctors because of Obamacare, the number of these “racists” will soar.

Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus moved the controversy into the “mainstream” media when he threatened to boycott the network until MSNBC President Phil Griffin personally apologized.

Mr. Griffin complied. “We have dismissed the person responsible for the tweet,” he said.

Mr. Griffin didn’t say who that was. If it wasn’t Ms. Resto-Montero, she also ought to be canned.

But the sickness at MSNBC won’t be cured by sacrificing a pawn or two.

Ugly tweets from viewers angered by Mr. Griffin’s apology indicate that by being the network of the vile and the clueless, MSNBC has carved out a formidable niche on the left.

But because MSNBC is more a hate speech than a news network, it is trusted less than any other and gets clobbered by Fox News in the ratings. Even on the left, there are only so many bigots.

This was the 19th time in the last two years MSNBC has had to apologize for something vicious and false said about conservatives and Republicans. Mr. Griffin really is furious, his sources tell Mr. Wemple, so maybe it won’t be just the head of a peon that rolls.

MSNBC can spew its bile despite audiences that could fit into a broom closet because Comcast, which controls the network, forces millions of cable subscribers who don’t watch it to subsidize MSNBC. Conservatives should press local governments not to renew franchises if MSNBC is included in Comcast “bundles” and demand Congress pass Sen. John McCain’s bill to permit cable customers to pay for only the channels they watch.

Jack Kelly is a columnist for The Pittsburgh Press and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.

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