MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry Needs to Stop Apologizing

What she did was nothing compared to the network's other foot-in-mouthers.

If love means never having to say you’re sorry, no wonder MSNBC is single. It’s the sorriest network on the planet.

Latest to join MSNBC’s Apologia Tour is weekend host Melissa Harris-Perry, doing public penance for jokes made about Mitt Romney’s adopted African-American grandson on her December 30th show.

After several heartfelt apologies, Harris-Perry, who is biracial but identifies as black, used her Saturday broadcast to say – again — she was sorry to both Romney and to “families formed through transracial adoption.” This time, there were tears.

With the recent verbal hand grenades thrown by Alec Baldwin and Martin Bashir, Harris-Perry completes MSNBC’s insult trifecta of sexual orientation, gender and race. Though all three hosts apologized, only Harris-Perry still has a job at MSNBC.


For starters, her offense was hardly on the same scale as that of her two immediate predecessors. Baldwin hurled a homophobic slur at a paparazzo; Bashir suggested that Sarah Palin should be forced to eat excrement. All Harris-Perry did was set up Romney’s adopted grandchild as a punch line for some lame jokes.

And yet, Harris-Perry, a professor of political science at Tulane, has been the most profusely apologetic of the trio, to the point of overkill. In my book, too many apologies are as lame as too few. Enough already. We get it, professor. You’re sorry, sorry, sorry. Can we move on?

(Ever the class act, Baldwin wondered in a tweet whether he would have kept his gig if he had cried. Boo hoo this, Baldwin.)

So what, exactly, did Harris-Perry do, anyway? In a New Year’s segment about photos of the year, she asked her panel of entertainers to suggest captions for Romney’s family Christmas pic.

So far, so good, except that Romney’s grandson, baby Kieran, seated on his knee, was the only person of color in a sea of white faces (all with excellent teeth, I might add.) For any comedian, that’s low-hanging fruit. Per Harris-Perry’s request, everyone cracked wise about Kieran, referencing the GOP’s lack of diversity.

Harris-Perry joined in, too, projecting a 2040 wedding between Kieran and North West, Kanye West’s kid. It was all silly and benign — perfect fodder for a slow news week.

However, there’s an unwritten rule in politics that kids are not fair game. Regardless, nothing said on Harris-Perry’s show approached the bile of MSNBC exile David Shuster’s statement in 2008 that Chelsea Clinton was being “pimped out” for her mother’s campaign. It got him fired.

Given that Harris-Perry’s “transgression,” was, well, kid stuff compared to those of former MSNBC bad boys like Baldwin, Bashir, Shuster, Don Imus and Keith Olbermann, one wonders why she’s carrying the cross.

Aside from the possibility that she truly does feel great remorse, it’s more likely Harris-Perry doesn’t want to add to the growing body count at MSNBC.

Better safe than sorry, I always say.