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Melissa’s apology
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By Stephen Browne
Steve Browne is an award-winning reporter and columnist who entered journalism by accident while living and working in Eastern Europe from 1991 to 2004. He is the author of two books for English students: \x34Word Pictures: English as it is REALLY ...
Rants and Raves
Steve Browne is an award-winning reporter and columnist who entered journalism by accident while living and working in Eastern Europe from 1991 to 2004. He is the author of two books for English students: Word Pictures: English as it is REALLY Used, published in Belgrade, Yugoslavia and Novosibirsk, Russia, and English Linguistic Humor: Puns, Play on Words, Spoonerisms, and Shaggy Dog Stories. In 1997 he was elected an Honorary Member of the Yugoslav Movement for the Protection of Human Rights. He is currently living in his native Midwest, which he considers the most interesting foreign country I have ever lived in.
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By Stephen W. Browne
Jan. 7, 2014 11:20 a.m.

Well Melissa Harris-Perry has stepped in it and frantically tried to unstep in it with a public apology.
In the “Photos of the year” segment of her MSNBC show, Harris-Perry showed a photo of Mitt Romney’s large extended family that showed Romney holding his adopted African-American grandchild, Kieran on his knee.
Much hilarity ensued among her guests.
Actress Pia Glenn sang a song from Sesame Street, “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just isn’t the same.”
Comedian Dean Obeidallah said, “It sums up the diversity of the Republican Party and the [Republican National Committee], where they have the whole convention and they find the one black person.”
Harris-Perry chimed in, wondering what it would look like if Kieran married North West, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s daughter.
The answer is, possibly a lot like Harris-Perry. She is the daughter of an African-American father and a white Mormon mother.
After a fair amount of indignation expressed by viewers, Harris-Perry apologized, visibly tearing-up on air.
“I intended to say positive and celebratory things about it, but Whatever the intent was, the reality is that the segment proceeded in a way that was offensive, and showing the photo in that context, that segment, was poor judgment,” Harris-Perry said. “So without reservation or qualification, I apologize to the Romney family.”
There has been a lot of cynical doubt expressed about Harris-Perry’s sincerity.
Noting the fate of Martin Bashir after he suggested someone ought to defecate in Sarah Palin’s mouth, or the hot water Paula Deen got into for admitting to using the N-word 27-years ago to describe an African-American gentleman who held a gun to her head, one might be forgiven for thinking Harris-Perry’s apology was driven by fear for her job.
I would rather be charitable and assume she was sincere.
Years ago Billy Graham was revealed to have engaged in some rather tasteless banter with then-President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office, including some anti-Semitic jokes.
Graham has regretted it ever since. Trying to explain it, he said there are times when the desire to fit in is just overwhelming, to the point it overrides taste and a sense of decency.
Well, in Harris-Perry’s circles taste and decency is not a primary consideration. The network wants “edgy“ commentary.
Harris-Perry once obliged by wearing a pair of homemade tampon earrings for a commentary on the abortion issue. (No, I don’t see the relevance either, but it’s edgy I guess.)
In terms of politics, Harris-Perry hangs out with people who believe those who disagree with them are not just wrong, but evil. If they do anything that seems to be worthy and good, it must be for ulterior motives. One need not demonstrate why or how, it just must. Because that’s the kind of people they are.
If that’s the case, you’ve got all kinds of latitude to be “edgy.”
The problem with feeding the edgy beast is, in this day and age where lines of polite behavior in public have been so blurred, it’s hard to know where that edge is, and very easy to go over it.
The network suits can’t tell you, because they don’t know. They gauge it by audience reaction. Go over that edge a little, get slapped down. Go far enough over, you’re toast.
It’s not fair and leaves the talking heads twisting in the wind. On the one hand there’s that demand for edgy commentary. On the other hand, there are no guidelines for how much is too much.
You skated too close to the edge and almost tumbled over Melissa. A quick apology saved you, this time.
Just remember, those suits you work for are merciless and will throw you to the wolves in a heartbeat if you slip over.
But by all means keep the edgy commentary coming.

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