Priebus Puts MSNBC 'On Probation' After Offensive Cheerios Tweet

Friday, 31 Jan 2014 09:00 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, has put MSNBC "on probation" after the network tweeted an offensive message suggesting the "rightwing" would be offended by a commercial featuring a biracial family.

Priebus had called for a boycott of the network by its members and surrogates until MSNBC President Phil Griffin personally apologized to Republicans for the shocking tweet involving a heartwarming Cheerios ad, Fox News reports.

Griffin quickly said sorry and called the tweet "outrageous and unacceptable," while also revealing that the network had fired the person responsible for the tweet. Priebus told Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity on Thursday night that he had accepted the apology, but called it "a first step."

Story continues below video.

He continued, "In their professed world of tolerance, they're sure hitting on all eight cylinders of intolerance. Now we have to stay on top of it. So you know what? It's sort of like being on probation I guess. But the fact of the matter is, we're here, we're watching them."

The video, which is set to air in a new version during the Super Bowl on Sunday, shows a biracial family discussing the heart benefits of the breakfast cereal Cheerios.

The MSNBC tweet, which read "Maybe the rightwing will hate it but everyone else will go awww: the adorable new #Cheerios ad w/ biracial family," came under fire soon after it was posted on MSNBC's site on Wednesday.

Priebus quickly fired off a letter to Griffin, warning, "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."

Later, in a statement, Griffin said, "We immediately acknowledged it was offensive and wrong, apologized and deleted it. 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."

During the TV segment, Hannity played a number of clips from MSNBC programs showing hosts attacking conservatives for harboring racial resentment against the president and African Americans, according to Mediaite. The clip included one of fired host Martin Bashir attacking former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

"It's pretty disgusting stuff," said Priebus. "Some of these things that are done about families, and people's appearance and gender, race, blanket statements about people on the right side of our party."

And he warned MSNBC, "I'm just not going to stand up as chairman of the party and take it."

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