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MSNBC anchor apologizes for 'ill-advised' Cinco de Mayo segment

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After catching some heat this week, the anchor of an MSNBC show has apologized for what he called an “ill-advised” segment that aired Monday to mark Cinco de Mayo.

The segment in question aired during the network’s show Way Too Early, hosted by Thomas Roberts from 5:30-6:00 a.m. As Roberts mentions the origin of the Mexican holiday, correspondent Louis Burgdorf is seen wearing a sombrero and shaking maracas while downing tequila.

In response, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Hugo Balta issued a statement sternly criticizing the segment, calling it “simply the worst example I have seen of a discriminatory stereotypical portrayal of any community by any media.”

Balta also criticized the show's producers and decision-making, noting in his statement that several people at MSNBC had agreed on the content and execution. Appearing on CNN, former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin also commented on the segment and said her first thought was whether there were any Latino producers or anyone in the newsroom who might have advised against the bit.

Roberts apologized on Wednesday, saying:

"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."

In an update on the matter, Balta said on the NAHJ website Thursday that Roberts and Burgdorf had reached out to him. He added that after discussing Monday’s segment, they also talked about “what happens next” and how it can affect their content in the future.

Roberts wasn’t the only one to apologize for a Cinco de Mayo segment incident this week. Lara Spencer of ABC’s Good Morning America also appeared in a sombrero and appeared to be holding a margarita while calling the holiday “Cinco de Drinko” in one segment on Monday.

Spencer apologized over Twitter the following day, saying she got “carried [away with] excitement” and added that she was thankful to journalists Pedro Rafael Rosado, Julio Ricardo Varela, and ABC’s John Quinones for making “great points.” Balta also commented on the ABC segment over Twitter, linking to a report from the National Hispanic Media Coalition about the impact of media stereotypes on Latinos.

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