MSNBC’s Hardball host swallowed hard and issued an apology last night for a story that aired earlier in the day on the network, which linked a slogan in a Mitt Romney video to the KKK.
During the 11 a.m. hour, MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts reported the following:
“So you may not hear Mitt Romney say ‘Keep America American’ anymore. That’s because it was a central theme of the KKK in the 1920s, it was a rallying cry for the group’s campaign of violence and intimidation against blacks, gays and Jews. The progressive blog AmericaBlog was the first to catch on to that.”
Roberts and MSNBC must have been pretty desperate to bash Romney by taking a rather innocuous statement and using it to link him back to the KKK.
What’s even more remarkable, though, is that when the network realized how off base they were, they had Chris Matthews issue an apology to the Romney campaign.
“During the 11 AM hour on MSNBC,” Mathhews said, “we reported on a blog item that compared a phrase used by the Romney campaign to one used by the KKK in the 1920s. It was irresponsible and incendiary of us to do this and showed an appalling lack of judgment. We apologize to the Romney campaign.”
MSNBC’s apology was the right thing to do, but it must have been hard for Matthews who has repeatedly criticized Romney on his program. But by doing so on Hardball it avoided what would have surely been even a tougher sell with Al Sharpton, Ed Schultz or Rachel Maddow.
Savor the moment, because I doubt if we will see Matthews issue another on-the-air apology to a Republican anytime soon.
UPDATE: The New York Times Brian Stelter reports  that Romney never uttered the phrase as AmericaBlog said he did. He actually said “Keep America America” .