MSNBC President Phil Griffin spoke to a convention of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists to personally apologize for his network’s Cinco de Mayo segment (watch it below), which he called an embarrassment to him and the network. “I apologize to everybody in this room for what took place on May 5,” Griffin said before taking questions at the convention Friday in San Antonio. In his remarks, he noted that TV news operations in general focus “so much more” on “European and Asian coverage” than covering Central and South America. “The forces of history are going to overwhelm what’s going on. I want to embrace this change. We’ve got to,” he said, according to media reports. He noted his network’s coverage of voting rights issues and the addition of Telemundo anchor Jose Diaz-Balart to its lineup as signs of positive change, while agreeing to hold a session between MSNBC show hosts and Latino experts.
NAHJ had blasted the segment, in which Way Too Early host Thomas Roberts talked about the origins of Cinco de Mayo while Morning Joe producer Louis Burgdorf ambled around the newsroom in a sombrero, shaking maracas and pretending to swill tequila. The program issued an on-air apology a couple days later and cable network apologized as well. Here’s the clip:
Speaking at the convention, Griffin took questions about the on-air segment, in which Roberts talked about the origins of the holiday and said, “It’s also an excuse to drink tequila on a Monday morning at work for Louis.” Then he added, “You have to drink the whole thing — and eat the worm.” At the time, NAHJ responded by attacking MSNBC’s “lack of judgment (and) insensitivity” and for its “attack of the Mexican community.”
The group said in a statement. “The segment clearly proves that diversity is lacking at the Way Too Early program” “Too often mistakes like these are made because the people making them are not representative of the community the content portrays.”