MSNBC has mastered the art of the apology. From Alec Baldwin to Martin Bashir to the tearful apology of Melissa Harris-Perry toward the Romney family for her twisted mocking of interracial adoption (if not adoption in general;) apologizing for things said "on-the-air" has become the rule at the network of the organized vocal minority.
But, as a society, we need to get past the concept of the apology and its acceptance as the goal. Apologies are cheap in today's America, and so are the vast majority of those who give them up like beads at Mardi Gras.
As a recap: On her program, Harris-Perry showed a picture of Mitt and Ann Romney with their grandchildren - 21 in all - including their adopted grandson Kieran. Kieran is black. Harris-Perry herself comes from a mixed race family (her mother was white, and she grew up in a Mormon household.) With her "panel" (which can loosely be described as a collection of "Who?" and "Why is this person on my TV" and "They're not funny" and "What's on TV Land because this crap is totally unwatchable" and "Has anyone seen my razor blades?") she decided to ask them what they thought about the photo.
The first response from the "panel" was the singing of the Sesame Street classic, "One of these things is not like the other." It's true. They're not a family. They're not grandparents and grandchildren. They're not a collection of 22 kids. Nope. This is MSNBC looking at the photo. "They're white, with a token black child guaranteed to make sure the Romney's can't be assailed by the political left anymore. Why else would they allow this adoption?" the panel clearly expressed.
The panel then went in to the obligatory attacks on the GOP, but none of that matters. This what MSNBC does - their ideology has supplanted their humanity, and there is not one producer or executive who has the will, want or desire to bring the humanity back. They like hate.
The backlash against Harris-Perry and the panel was severe. Some of the panel apologized during the week. On her program one week later, Harris-Perry apologized with choked-back tears. Mitt Romney, when asked about the apology, said clearly, "I think her apology was clearly heartfelt, and we accept that."
Of course he did. Mitt Romney also accepted that he shouldn't pummel President Obama on Benghazi in the second and third debate.
What good is the apology? What's the value of it? Melissa Harris-Perry didn't apologize on her own accord, out of her own decency and recognition of a poorly turned phrase or the insensitivity and ignorance of her panel. She apologized because she suffered through a week of insults and rants on Twitter and tons of bad press.
Bad press that MSNBC can ill-afford because of all of their apologies. Those of Alec Baldwin, the former host who went on yet another anti-gay screed. And Martin Bashir, who thought it would be right and proper for people to defecate on former Governor Sarah Palin.
Do I believe he's truly sorry? Of course I don't. I don't believe Basir or Baldwin or Harris-Perry. I don't believe Jimmy Swaggart. I don't believe Mel Gibson. I don't believe Barack Obama.
Apologies are nothing. Actions are everything. That's not to say that amongst regular people in the normal course of life an apology might not be needed, and accepting it may have a value. And in the case of Romney, you could argue, it was the politically expedient (if not expected) thing to do. But these aren't regular people.
In all cases, no one is going to like everyone all the time, and most people aren't going to like other people near all the time. That's sobering and all together inspiring. You don't have to have everyone like you, and you have to accept the fact that people may not like you - and may be very vocal about it!
Which is why I was refreshed to hear from Natasha Leggero, the so-called comic who, on the NBC New Year's Eve telecast that you didn't watch, made a joke about World War II veterans only being able to eat Spaghetti-o's. It was insulting and ignorant, I agree. The backlash against her was great, and people demanded apologies. But instead of doing so, Leggero went the other way.
In a statement on her Tumblr account, Leggero commented:
I wish I could apologize, but do you really want another insincere apology that you know is just an attempt at damage control and not a real admission of guilt?
Let me just try instead to be honest. I'm not sorry. I don't think a comedian making a joke about dentures on television in any way diminishes the amazing courage of American veterans and specifically those who survived Pearl Harbor. Do we really believe that the people who fought and defended our freedom against Nazis and the Axis powers will find a joke about Spaghetti O's too much to bear? Sorry, I have more respect for Veterans than to think their honor can be impugned by a glamorous, charming comedian in a fur hat.
She could apologize, she chose not to. And, she's right. I mean, she's not funny. She's an untalented dolt who I assume slept her way to the middle. But what good is an apology from her? What does it do for anyone?
And why accept it? What's the gain, except for a moment of moral superiority that doesn't move the needle?
These disgusting words don't need apology, or firings, as Kurt Schlichter has discussed. What they need are constant discussion and exposure to shame those who say them, and those who follow those who say them. They don't need apologies so the story can go away.
The story of the immature, inhumane antics of NBC properties (and their like-minded fans and followers) should never go away. They should be the focus of discussions and articles and radio and blogs and videos. Their sickening ways should be used as questions for those who support their ideology. Why are you a fan of Melissa Harris-Perry? Are you ok with mocking adopted children? Is your side really in favor of defecating on people? Do people who think like you really hate the Greatest Generation that much?
The questions should be asked until they're answered. That's when you force them to think. That's when you can get them to see reality. That's when you can move the needle. And that's when we win.