MSNBC is rapidly becoming the Mea Culpa Network. It seems like they’ve got something new to apologize for ever week. This time it’s Melissa Harris-Perry taking another stab at apologizing for her mockery of the Romney family for adopting a black child. She already tried an “unqualified and unreserved” apology on Twitter, which she unfortunately saddled with a hashtag she could use to attach various qualifications and reservations. She’s still doing it, as her new on-air apology is packed full of absurd justifications and explanations of what she really meant to say, with a dash of weeping added for emotional impact.
This is getting really weird. MSNBC really is becoming a lunatic asylum, run by people in various stages of mental and emotional breakdown. For all the liberals who want to bring Fox News down by comparing it to the twisted monstrosity of unhinged partisan id you’ve created over at MSNBC: there is no comparison. Criticize the Fox editorial slant all you like, but they simply do not do things like this. That’s not to say Fox is running a flawless operation, but they haven’t done anything like what Martin Bashir got fired for, what Melissa Harris-Perry keeps apologizing for, or what Chris Matthews gets away with on a nightly basis.
I hate to sound ungracious, since Ms. Harris-Perry had an on-air breakdown and all, but all these reservations and qualifications she keeps attaching to her unreserved, unqualified apologies ring hollow. There is no rational universe in which the left-wing loons who run her show picked out that relatively obscure Romney family photo (it’s from their Christmas card) because they wanted to congratulate the family for their heartwarming racial inclusiveness. Both Harris-Perry personally, and her network in general, have a long history of viciously race-baiting Republicans at every opportunity. She’s a lowest-common-denominator racialist huckster who recently declared the term “ObamaCare” is effectively synonymous with the N-word, not an intelligent, thoughtful commentator who made one little slip-up that she deeply regrets. What she and her panel of comedians did with that Romney family photo is one hundred percent consistent with her past behavior, not the unfortunate lapse in judgment she portrayed is as during her on-air apology. I couldn’t help but notice she was laughing along with her panel in the carefully prepared segment she’s apologizing for, rather than shutting them down and declaring that she rolled out that photograph because she wanted to congratulate the Romneys for making an interracial adoption.
Harris-Perry’s apology theatrics are an attempt to change the subject and excuse her behavior with psychological drama. The problem she, and her superiors, really need to address is her network’s habit of taking every available cheap shot at Republicans. That’s all this segment was about. We don’t need an exploration of her deep emotions about interracial adoption; we need to talk about how she’s so willing to disregard everything she claims to believe in, when she’s got a couple of minutes to fill on her show, and spots an opportunity to set up the old “token minority” slander against Republicans for a punch line.
The problem isn’t really that her show suggested “inter-racial families are funny, or in any way deserving of ridicule,” as she put it during her apology. The problem is that she thinks Republicans are so deserving of ridicule that nothing else matters. And it’s not the kind of fair-game clowning around that involves making fun of a politician’s clumsy turns of phrase or unfortunate wardrobe choices.
Mitt Romney appeared on “Fox News Sunday” this week and was very gracious about accepting what he described as Harris-Perry’s “heartfelt” apology. “We hold no ill will whatsoever,” he said on behalf of his family.
It would be productive if this incident led to some soul-searching by liberals about their reflexive tendency to write off disagreement with Obama as racism – a discussion Ms. Harris-Perry could lead, if she felt inclined to do some penance – but I doubt that’s what we’ll get. Race-baiting is too easy and satisfying to the liberal base to be abandoned. They’ll still be doing it when we’ve got a black Republican president… after first explaining how the individual in question isn’t really “black.” If she’s female, she won’t really be a “woman,” either.
One of the Left’s core beliefs is that politics define identity. That’s why they’re willing to give all sorts of Democrat malefactors a pass for behavior that would get a Republican eviscerated. If a Democrat has the correct position on “women’s issues,” for example, his actual treatment of women is completely irrelevant. Likewise, a loving and loyal family man like Mitt Romney was ruthlessly savaged as “anti-woman” throughout the 2012 campaign. Even his mention of accepting a binder full of women’s resumes from a feminist group was twisted into some sort of Freudian slip that supposedly revealed his deep-seated misogyny. And this is the man who once shut down his entire corporate operation to help search for a kidnapped girl!
This is also why a pack of left-wing bobbleheads reflexively treated a photo of Romney bouncing a black child on his knee as an opportunity to accuse his entire family of tokenism with their “humorous” reactions. Contrary to Melissa Harris-Perry’s apologies, neither she nor any of her guests on that fateful segment looked at that photo and saw an adorable adopted child surrounded by his loving family. They only had eyes for Grandpa Romney. His party affiliation is all they ever wanted or needed to know about him.
Update: Eliana Johnson at National Review suggests Melissa Harris-Perry will avoid the fates of Alec Baldwin and Martin Bashir, because she’s part of Rachel Maddow’s inner circle, and Maddow effectively runs the network. Judging by her apologies, it looks like MHP took quite a bit of heat behind the scenes, even if her job was never in serious danger. It will be interesting to see if this develops into a general call for more restraint by MSNBC management… or will they just hunker down and wait for the controversy to blow over, on the theory that their lack of restraint is the only thing keeping their ratings from being even worse?
Update: We’ll probably never stop debating which members of a top politician’s family should be “off-limits,” especially with regard to the First Family. Even when they’re not politically active or combative, the media tends to regard them as celebrities – at least, that’s the excuse we got when considerable attention was paid to the misadventures of the Bush girls. There’s usually a bit of confusion surrounding the First Lady, who traditionally becomes an issues advocate of some sort… and since every square inch of American life is now infused with government power, even theoretically innocuous issue advocacy can easily blur into partisan politics.
But the grandchildren of someone who didn’t even make it to the Oval Office? When Melissa Harris-Perry talks about families being “off-limits,” she’s highlighting one of the criticisms of her misbegotten show that she really has no answer for. How did she and her production team manage to forget the “families are off-limits” principle when looking at a photo of the baby grandson of a man who doesn’t even hold elected office? Mitt Romney isn’t even all that vigorous of a commentator at present – he hasn’t been entirely invisible, and he has said he plans to remain politically active, but he’s hardly someone that needed to be targeted with heavy artillery. The minutes of the meeting where this segment of Harris-Perry’s show was planned would make fascinating reading.