MSNBC president apologizes to Priebus

Greg Nash

MSNBC President Phil Griffin on Thursday apologized for the network’s offensive tweet aimed at the GOP and said he had fired the staffer responsible. 

A tweet sent from MSNBC's official Twitter account on Wednesday night said the right wing might hate a new Cheerios ad that features a biracial family, but the rest of the country would love it.

Griffin said he personally apologized to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus after the chairman threatened a boycott of the network until he received an apology. 

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“The tweet last night was outrageous and unacceptable,” read the statement from Griffin shown on the network Thursday afternoon. “We immediately acknowledged that it was offensive and wrong, apologized, and deleted it. We have dismissed the person responsible for the tweet.” 

He added: “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 form all sides to participate. That will never change.”

Priebus had written a memo banning all RNC staff from appearing on the network until Griffin apologized. Priebus said he was asking all Republican officials to follow his lead.

“Until you personally and publicly apologize for this behavior, I have banned all RNC staff from appearing on, in association with, or booking any RNC surrogates on MSNBC,” Priebus said in a letter to Griffin.

MSNBC quickly deleted the offensive tweet Wednesday night. 

“Maybe the rightwing will hate it, but everyone else will go awww: the adorable new #Cheerios ad w/ biracial family,” the network's account tweeted out with a link to a story about the ad.

The network apologized Wednesday night in a pair of tweets, saying it did not reflect MSNBC's position. Griffin reiterated that again Thursday. 

RNC communications director Sean Spicer said Priebus accepted the apology but would continue to watch and call the network out on offensive content.  

“We appreciate Mr. Griffin’s admission that their comment was demeaning and disgusting, and the Chairman accepted his apology,” Spicer said in a statement. “We will aggressively monitor the network to see whether their pattern of unacceptable behavior actually changes. We don’t expect their liberal bias to change, but we will call them out when political commentary devolves into personal and belittling attacks.”

The RNC has clashed with the network since at least last year, when it threatened to refuse to partner with its parent company during presidential debates due to a now-defunct series about Hillary Clinton.

MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry apologized in December after coming under fire for mocking a picture of Mitt Romney’s adopted grandson. And host Martin Bashir resigned after making vulgar remarks about the former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

—Updated at 4:50 p.m.