Not particularly a holiday celebrated by most, Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that does mean something to Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in this country. So when reporting on the holiday yesterday, MSNBC may have taken it too far when trying to cover the holiday on its morning program.
During its segment on Cinco de Mayo, the network’s early morning show called Way Too Early with host Thomas Roberts and producer Louis Burgdorf featured a tasteless and stereotypical portrayal of a stumbling drunk Mexican.
While Roberts told viewers about the historical meaning of Cinco de Mayo, Burgdorf stumbled before the camera while pretending to guzzle-down a bottle of tequila with a sombrero hanging sideways from his head. In-addition, Burgdorf wandered about the newsroom shaking a pair of maracas.
“It’s also an excuse to drink tequila on a Monday morning at work for Louis,” said Roberts, adding “you have to drink the whole thing and eat the worm.”
As the program continued, the team of the morning show continued to discuss Cinco de Mayo throughout the show. In a segment called The Cooler, Roberts stood before a table which displayed bottle of tequila meanwhile the Cooler Correspondent Burgdorf began the segment by downing a shot of tequila. The tequila, according to Roberts, was Burgdorf’s go-go juice.
After taking the shot, Burgdorf’s foolishly shouted an “Olé!” a phrase which is used mostly in Spain than Mexico.
Hugo Balta the president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists not only condemned the segment but called it “abominable.”
Yesterday, MSNBC apologized for the show releasing the following statement:
“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 ill-advised references.”
While some may argue that the show was only in jest and meant no harm, what people should be aware of is the Way Too Early was way out of line when trying to present a cultural segment.
Not a show that is geared towards comedy or satire, especially since they are on a network that wants to be taken seriously as a source of “real” news, the program indicated what many are unaware of. While Cinco de Mayo may be a day to have a few drinks, it is not simply a trivial and funny day to have to the 33.5 million Mexicans and Mexican-Americans living in this country.