A cereal tweet exposes serial unfairness

Filed under OPINION

Raynard JacksonMSNBC’s President Phil Griffin was forced to apologize last week for an incendiary and grossly unfair tweet about conservatives. This all got started with a simple TV commercial for Cheerios breakfast cereal. The only thing that was noteworthy about the commercial, which ran during the Super Bowl on Sunday, was that it featured an interracial married couple (one man and one woman), with a beautiful bi-racial 6-year-old daughter.

Some anonymous employee (MSNBC refuses to name the person) felt comfortable tweeting the following from MSNBC’s official twitter account:  “Maybe the rightwing will hate it, but everyone else will go awww: the adorable new #Cheerios ad w/ biracial family.”

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus demanded an apology from Griffin and barred all RNC employees and surrogates from appearing on MSNBC.

An apology
Priebus’ move forced Griffin to issue this apology:  “The tweet last night (last Wednesday) 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.”

Strangely, Griffin then sent one of his on air personalities to read the apology on the air on his behalf.  Why didn’t he do it himself?

Now juxtapose MSNBC’s response with that of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who happens to be a Republican. Reporters in the media clamored for Christie to hold a press conference and answer all of their questions, which he did for almost two hours. Consequently, we now know who Christie fired and why he fired them. Whether you liked his answers or not during his press conference, at least people were held accountable.

Demand accountability
Where is this same accountability demand for Griffin to stand before the public and do the same?  He claims to have fired the employee who wrote the tweet.  How do we know that since no name has been released from MSNBC?  How can we be sure that the tweet didn’t come from Griffin himself?

Even more troubling is what practices or policies did Griffin have in place that would make an employee comfortable enough to send that type of tweet?  I think MSNBC should have an outside panel investigate the work environment it has created for its employees.   As Ronald Reagan once said, “trust, but verify.”

Will MSNBC force all employees to undergo sensitivity training so this will not happen again (as conservatives are always implored to do)?  Where is the righteous indignation from the sensitivity police – groups such as GLAAD (founded as Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), the Human Right Campaign, NAACP, the National Urban League, and Al Sharpton’s National Action Network?

What about Sharpton?
On his TV show last week, Sharpton read some meandering statement about Coretta King that had absolutely nothing to do with the tweet in question.  He didn’t have the guts to stand on principle and demand more accountability from Griffin, probably because Griffin personally hired him even over the objection of Black journalists who wanted a trained journalist in that seat.

Had a White Tea Party member or Republican done the same thing, MSNBC would have wall-to-wall coverage of the issue.  That’s why it is critically important for the groups listed above, who claim they stand for equality for all, stand up for all.

What these groups should finally state is that they only believe in equality if you agree with their point of view.

Is it really too much to ask Black and White employees of MSNBC to be subjected to the Christie standard – full information, full accountability?

Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC.

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