Dear MSNBC: Apologize Now for Your Insulting (and Racist) Cinco de Mayo Segment

May 6, 2014
7:23 AM

UPDATE, 9:00 am EST, May 7, 2014 Two Instagrams of apologies. A bit too corporate?

UPDATE, 1:00 pm EST, May 6, 2014 The latest from Hugo Balta, President of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ):

UPDATE MSNBC TO ISSUE APOLOGY ON THE AIR: from MSNBC EP Alex Korson….Hugo, here is the apology we have issued: On Monday, Cinco De Mayo, ‘Way Too Early’ made sarcastic references to the way some Americans celebrate the holiday. It was not our intention to be disrespectful and we sincerely apologize for the references.

Thomas [the host] will be making this apology on Way Too Early tomorrow as well.

UPDATE, 12:45 pm EST, May 6, 2014 Here is what Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery just tweeted. Looks like MSNBC will issue an apology and that “people will be punished.”

UPDATE, 11:15 am EST, May 6, 2014 Here is what Hugo Balta, President of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) just posted on a public Facebook site:

UPDATE: MSNBC 5 de Mayo segment:
I just got off the phone with Alex Korson, executive producer for Morning Joe, who oversees “Way Too Early” the program where the 5 de Mayo segment ran.
I will have more details for you later on today, but here is a summary:
-He apologized for the segment
-Assured me that while the props were planned; the anchors took it upon themselves to put them on and act in the manner they did
-He expressed his remorse at how the producers allowed the segment and behavior to continue
-He said that he and his team are reviewing the processes in place in order for an incident like this never to happen again.
-He said all those involved in the segment will be disciplined
-He said an apology will be made
Hugo Balta
NAHJ President

Huge hat tip to Buzzfeed’s Adrian Carrasquillo for alerting the Internet about what is perhaps one of the most insulting and offensive segments we have ever seen on cable news. No, the segment is not from FOX. It is from MSNBC’s “Way Too Early”. Watch.

Let’s summarize: while we saw a lot of #CincoDeFallo moments yesterday, this segment from MSNBC outdoes them all. We don’t know what bothers us more: host Thomas Roberts mixing Cinco de Mayo history with jokes about drinking or it is some young (and white) guy in a sombrero goofing off with a tequila bottle and maracas? How about all of it?

The segment failed. Simple as that. And MSNBC should do the right thing and apologize right now.

Listen, we love a good joke, but that Cinco de Mayo segment was cheap and insulting. It also doesn’t help that MSNBC’s diversity record with Latinos is poor, to say the least. Can anyone name one Latino who is in front of the camera on MSNBC? Anyone? Also, who approved this segment? Who thought that this would be a good idea?

You know what our response is:

Do the right thing, MSNBC. And while we’re at it, get some more Latinos on your team so this type of content goes away.

UPDATE: The National Association of Hispanic Journalists has already weighed in this morning. Here is what NAHJ President Hugo Balta wrote:

This is simply the worst example I have seen of a discriminatory stereotypical portrayal of any community by any media. The fact that this was done by a news organization is abominable.

This wasn’t a chance occurrence. This was a planned segment where many journalists agreed on the content and execution which concluded on what was seen nationwide.

It feeds to the ignorant misconceptions of a rich and proud people who unfortunately are too often portrayed as caricatures to be scoffed at.

NAHJ denounces the actions taken by MSNBC’s “Way Too Early” team for their capricious actions, lack of judgment, insensitivity and attack at the Mexican community.

NAHJ demands that the employees involved in the planning and production of this segment be disciplined and made to publicly apologize for their actions.

I am reaching out to the MSNBC leadership today.

Hugo Balta
NAHJ President