Tags: msnbc | twitter | cheerios | fired

MSNBC Fires Staffer Behind Offensive Cheerios Tweet

Thursday, 30 Jan 2014 06:42 PM

By Todd Beamon

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MSNBC has fired the staffer responsible for sending a Twitter message on the network's account slamming the "rightwing" over a new Cheerios advertisement featuring a biracial family.

"The tweet last night was outrageous and unacceptable. We immediately acknowledged it was offensive and wrong, apologized and deleted it," MSNBC President Phil Griffin said in a statement Thursday.

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The statement was read by Ari Melber, host of " The Cycle," a news and talk show on the network, and was first reported by Mediaite.

"We have dismissed the person responsible for the tweet," the statement said.

Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus called for a boycott of MSNBC until Griffin apologized for the offensive tweet.

"I personally apologize to Mr. Priebus and to everyone offended," Griffin's statement said. "At MSNBC, we believe in passionate, strong debate about the issues, and we invite voices from all sides to participate. That will never change."

The Cheerios advertisement, to be shown during Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday, shows a biracial family discussing the heart benefits of the breakfast cereal.

The original MSNBC tweet — "Maybe the rightwing will hate it but everyone else will go awww: the adorable new #Cheerios ad w/ biracial family" — drew criticism shortly after it was posted on MSNBC's account late Wednesday.

The network removed the tweet and backtracked with several apologetic Twitter messages.

Priebus sent his letter early Thursday.

"Unless you personally and professionally apologize for this behavior, I have banned [Republican National Committee] staff from appearing on, associating with, or booking any RNC surrogates on MSNBC," Priebus told Griffin.

The Cheerios tweet follows several embarrassing incidents at the network, including one involving host Melissa Harris-Perry, who was forced to apologize to former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for mocking his adopted grandson, who is black.

In addition, Martin Bashir was forced to resign after slamming 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin — by suggesting that she receive the same "disgusting" treatment as slaves as once described by a slaveholder — and Alec Baldwin was fired in November for hurling a gay slur at a photographer on a New York City street.

"Sadly, such petty and demeaning attacks have become a pattern of behavior at your network," Priebus wrote in his letter to Griffin. "With increasing frequency, many of your hosts have personally denigrated and demeaned Americans — especially conservative and Republican Americans — without even attempting to further meaningful political dialogue."

The new 30-second Cheerios ad is a follow up to a spot for the cereal company last May, featuring Grace "Gracie" Colbert as the young daughter of an interracial couple. In the newest ad, Gracie uses her dad's announcement of a new baby brother to lobby for a puppy.

The first advertisement received so many racist comments on YouTube that General Mills Inc., which makes Cheerios, removed the video's comment section.

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