Crisis Management Strategy: MSNBC Host Under Scrutiny

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    MSNBC Crisis: Another Host Under Scrutiny

    Is there an epidemic of bad behavior in the network? A crisis management strategy that the media must give attention to.

    MSNBC TV hosts have been creating loads of reputation issues for themselves recently. From Martin Bashir’s resignation following nasty comments, he made about Sarah Palin on his show, to Alec Baldwin making a quick exit after being recorded using anti-gay slurs toward the paparazzi, to the latest situation, in which a pair of comedians guesting on Melissa Harris-Perry’s weekend show mocked the fact that Mitt Romney has an African American grandson.

    You would think everyone from the NBC family would be wary of asking comedians to comment on current events after the uproar following the #NBCNYE #Fail, but apparently, social media profiles absolutely deluged with enraged stakeholders weren’t enough to turn heads at the network. Predictably, the incident on Harris-Perry’s show resulted in more of the same, but Harris-Perry, unlike NBC itself for the New Year’s incident, offered up a tearful on-air apology:

    “Whatever the intent was, the reality is that the segment proceeded in a way that was offensive and showing the photo in that context of that segment was poor judgment. So, without reservation or qualification, I apologize to the Romney family,” she said. “Adults who enter into public life implicitly consent to having less privacy, but their families and especially their children should not be treated callously or thoughtlessly. My intention was not malicious, but I broke the ground rule that families are off-limits, and for that I am sorry.”

    “I am deeply sorry that we suggested that interracial families are in any way funny or deserving of ridicule. On this program, we are dedicated to advocating for a wide diversity of families. It is one of our core principles and I am reminded that when we are doing so, it must always be with the utmost respect.

    Situations like this always remind us of a famous Joseph Hall quote – “A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was.” Harris-Perry issued a solid apology, and Romney actually publicly stated that there are no hard feelings, but the host’s crisis management plan better include being very careful as to the content of her show in the coming months or her reputation will take more lasting damage.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]