In its apology for comments made by Don Imus and Chris Matthews -- which was identical to an apology MSNBC issued in 2004 over ethnic slurs made on Imus's show -- about the film Brokeback Mountain, MSNBC did not mention Matthews or his affiliation with MSNBC.
MSNBC issued an apology for comments made during Imus in the Morning, a radio show the news channel simulcasts, by MSNBC personalities Chris Matthews and Don Imus about the film Brokeback Mountain (Focus Features, 2005). But the apology -- which was identical to an apology MSNBC issued in 2004 over ethnic slurs made on Imus's show -- failed to mention Matthews by name and drew no connection between the network and Matthews, an MSNBC employee. During the January 18 edition of Imus in the Morning, Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball, quoted radio host Michael Savage in referring to the film as "Bareback Mounting." Imus in the Morning host Don Imus responded that his own producer called it "Fudgepack Mountain."
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) complained about the comments to MSNBC, and Jeremy Gaines, the news channel's vice president for communications, subsequently made the following statement, according to GLAAD:
"Imus" is produced by WFAN radio and is simulcast by MSNBC. The views expressed on the program are not those of MSNBC. Having said that, it was unfortunate that these remarks were telecast on MSNBC. We sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by these remarks.
But MSNBC failed to apologize for the fact that the remarks were made by Matthews -- one of its lead news hosts -- instead deflecting responsibility to WFAN, which produces the Imus show. In posting the apology, GLAAD criticized MSNBC's failure to name Matthews, writing:
[I]t's ludicrous to suggest that Chris Matthews, one of the network's anchors and most visible commentators, should not be held accountable to the network's standards and practices, particularly for comments he makes on MSNBC.
The language of the apology repeated a previous MSNBC apology. After WFAN sports anchor Sid Rosenberg, a regular guest on the Imus's show, on the November 12, 2004, edition called Palestinians "stinking animals" and said, "They ought to drop the bomb right there, kill 'em all right now," MSNBC issued an apology to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). According to CAIR, the apology read: "The views expressed on the program are not those of MSNBC. Having said that, it was unfortunate that these remarks were telecast on MSNBC. We sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by these remarks."
In 2003, MSNBC fired Savage -- whom Matthews called "wonderful" while quoting his variation on the Brokeback Mountain title -- for labeling a caller to his MSNBC show a "sodomite" and instructing him to "get AIDS and die."