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MSNBC president apologizes to Republican chairman for offensive ‘biracial’ tweet

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Jan. 24, 2014: Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus is seen at the RNC winter meeting in Washington. (AP)

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MSNBC boss praises Fox?

MSNBC president apologizes to Republican chairman for offensive ‘biracial’ tweet 

MSNBC President Phil Griffin, faced with an uproar online, apologized to the Republican national chairman on Thursday for an "outrageous and unacceptable" tweet by the network that accused conservatives of hostility toward biracial families. 

Griffin, who acted hours after party chairman Reince Priebus vowed to keep Republicans off the cable channel, also said he has fired the staffer involved. 

"We immediately acknowledged that it was offensive and wrong, apologized, and deleted it," Griffin said in a statement.  "I personally apologize to Mr. Priebus and to everyone offended." 

Even before Priebus turned the monumentally offensive Twitter message into a political issue, other Twitter users delivered a thunderous condemnation almost instantaneously, well before the mainstream media noticed the trend. 

MSNBC was pummeled online for attributing a kind of racial animosity to conservatives, done in the guise of commenting on an advertisement. 

"Maybe the rightwing will hate it, but everyone else will go awww: the adorable new #Cheerios ad w/ biracial family," the tweet said. 

Richard Wolffe, who runs the network’s website, earlier said the tweet was “dumb and offensive,” adding “that’s not who we are at msnbc.” The news channel has deleted the tweet.

By late morning, Priebus was demanding that Griffin apologize. He said no Republican staffers would appear on the network until he did, and he urged officeholders and strategists to steer clear as well.

“While we understand MSNBC will go to great lengths to discredit Republicans and conservatives,” Priebus said in a statement, “this kind of attack on the millions of Americans who identify with the political right is offensive and unacceptable. Unfortunately, this tweet is just the latest in a pattern of poor statements by MSNBC and its hosts.”

Even before the RNC entered the fray, the online protests took a visual turn, with Michelle Malkin, who runs the conservative site Twitchy, putting up such posts as: “Going to put my #MyRightwingBiracialFamily to bed now.” And: “Take notice all the rest of you left-wing race card players. Your smears WILL be crushed.”

The social network was flooded by folks posting pictures of black and white blended families.

Michael Beckman: “I guess #MSNBC will hate my family not just bi-racial & bi-religious [both conservative GOP]”

E. Huneke-Bergquist: “1.) @msnbc, you make me sad 2.) #MyRightwingBiracialFamily, you give me hope. 3.) Love wins.”

Betsygraham: “Hey @msnbc ! Here's #MyRightwingBiracialFamily and we like @cheerios too”

In short, they fought hate with love. Twitter has a do-it-yourself policing function that can careen out of control but also functions as a rough democracy.

Now it’s entirely possible that the odious Cheerios tweet was posted by some 23-year-old staffer. But shouldn’t some executive be reviewing content put out in the network’s name?

Given the controversy over Melissa Harris-Perry and her panel mocking Mitt Romney and his adopted black grandson—for which she profusely apologized—this is the last thing that MSNBC needed. A classic self-inflicted mistake that rubbed salt in America’s racial wounds. 

MSNBC boss praises Fox?

In the cable news wars, network honchos usually engage in a fair amount of trash-talking. 

Which is why it's surprising that Phil Griffin, the MSNBC chief, just had some nice things to say about Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes. 

Griffin told the Daily Beast: "Roger basically had a petri dish to see what worked on cable. America's Talking [the now-defunct channel run by Ailes] was food shows, exercise shows, sex shows, politics. Roger even had his own show. It was great. He figured out what popped -- and the rest is history... 

"Look, I think he's had a huge impact on media -- as big an impact in media as anybody today ... He gets it. He understood television from the beginning ... He went, 'I know how to reach an audience, and there's an audience out there that's left out and feels unrepresented,' and he found it, targeted it. There's no denying that Roger did something that nobody else has done." 

Not that Griffin didn't take a swipe at Fox: "I think they do have an ideology, because every Republican who's in trouble goes on that network to be taken care of." 

Griffin, for his part, has hired such former Democratic politicos as Al Sharpton and Ed Rendell. 

He doesn't have to make nice with CNN President Jeff Zucker; the two are buddies, since Zucker spent years as Griffin's boss when he ran NBC.

Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of "MediaBuzz" (Sundays 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.