Posted on December 15, 2011

MSNBC Apologizes to Romney Campaign for Klan Report

Brian Stelter, New York Times, December 14, 2011

Blaming its own staff for an “appalling lack of judgment,” MSNBC apologized on Wednesday for reporting that a phrase used by Mitt Romney on the campaign stump was used in the past by the Ku Klux Klan.

The brief report during the 11 a.m. hour on MSNBC triggered internal turmoil at the cable news network, which is linked to NBC News, the home of the “Today” show and “NBC Nightly News.” {snip}

The MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews, who was not involved with the original report, read an apology to the Romney campaign during his 5 p.m. program, “Hardball.”

The network, Mr. Matthews said, “reported on a blog item that compared a phrase used by the Romney campaign to one used by the K.K.K. way back in the 1920s. It was irresponsible and incendiary of us to do this, and it showed an appalling lack of judgment. We apologize, we really do, to the Romney campaign.”


The comments on MSNBC about Mr. Romney seemed to have been plucked straight from the Web site AMERICAblog, which noted on Tuesday that in the 1920s, K.K.K. literature employed the phrase “keep America American.”

(Others have used it, too; The Washington Post noted on Wednesday that “long before the KKK picked up the slogan, it was used in the 1850s by members of the ‘Know Nothing Party,’ an anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic nativist party.”)

Mr. Romney has used the phrase in speeches while campaigning for the Republican nomination for president. At a campaign appearance last Friday, he described the race for president by saying, “We have on one side a president who wants to transform America into a European-style nation, and you have on other hand someone like myself that wants to turn around America and keep America American with the principles that made us the greatest nation on Earth.”

{snip} “So you may not hear Mitt Romney say ‘Keep America American’ anymore, because it was a rallying cry for the K.K.K. group, and intimidation against blacks, gays and Jews,” the MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts said on Wednesday morning. While he was speaking, a graphic on the screen read, “Romney’s KKK Slogan?”