What is it about the phrase “I’m sorry” that makes professional politicos so loath to utter it? Why is it so hard for prominent political types to simply apologize and ask for forgiveness without trying to force a nonsense justification into the apology? Following a disastrous and blatantly racist interview with Sen. Ted Cruz last month, Mark Halperin finally issued what he characterized as an apology earlier today.
Halperin’s apology press release consisted of 149 words. Precisely 11 of those words constituted an apology. The other 138 constituted Halperin’s justification for his absurd line of questioning. The full text of the apology press release spanned eight sentences. Six sentences of excuses and justifications passed before Halperin issued his apology to Cruz:
We wanted to talk with Senator Cruz about his outreach to Latino voters the day after he spoke at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. My intent was to give the Senator a chance to speak further about his heritage and personal connections to the community through some casual questions. I rushed through the questions and that was a mistake-it led to poor tone and timing. I also understand why some felt the questions were inappropriate. As for asking Senator Cruz to welcome Senator Sanders to the race in Spanish” that was meant to be the type of light-hearted banter that he’s done with us before on the show. In no way was I asking Senator Cruz to ‘prove’ he was an ‘authentic’ Latino. I apologize to those that were offended and to Senator Cruz. I promise that I will work to make the tone and questions better next time.
What nonsense. Oh, he just wanted to give Cruz the opportunity to connect with his own community? That’s a great justification if you’re a buffoon who thinks Hispanics are only able to connect with each other via forced small talk about food and music. Oh, you thought it was “light-hearted banter” to demand that Cruz speak Spanish on your command? That’s probably because you’re an idiot. And don’t get me started on the “some felt the questions were inappropriate” nonsense, which is a completely cowardly dodge. Just own up to the fact that they were completely inappropriate, period.
Halperin wanted Cruz to speak in Spanish to prove his Hispanic bona fides when Halperin himself can’t even manage to adequately apologize in English to prove his decent human being bona fides.
The awfulness of Halperin’s lame apology is matched only by the awfulness of the questions he asked of Cruz during the controversial interview. Al Hunt, Halperin’s co-host, asked Cruz questions about policy. Halperin wasn’t interested in policy. No, he wanted to embarrass Cruz with racial trivia.
“People are really interested in you and your identity,” Halperin told Cruz during the interview, “so I just want to ask you as a historical matter: when you filled out your application to Princeton, to Harvard, did you list yourself as an Hispanic?”
Really, Mark Halperin? That’s a question that needs to be asked “as a historical matter?”
After Cruz answered that yes, he listed himself as a Cuban American since that’s his family heritage, Halperin decided to play another race card.
“I want to talk a little more about your Cuban heritage,” Halperin continued. He wanted to know if Cruz had “an affinity for or a connection to anything part of your Cuban past,” whatever the heck that means. “Do you have a favorite Cuban food, or Cuban dish?” he asked.
When Cruz noted that he grew up eating Cuban food all the time, Halperin rudely interrupted Cruz mid-sentence and barked “What’s your favorite dish?” Seriously. You have to watch it to believe it. This exchange comes at roughly 5:25 in the interview. If you think it sounds bad after reading about it, be sure to watch it, because the dripping disdain is difficult to capture with mere words.
“Cuban music? Favorite Cuban singer?” Halperin then asked. Halperin didn’t elaborate on which singer he considers to be sufficiently Cuban, nor did he explain which foods count as authentically Hispanic.
And how did Halperin conclude his interview with Cruz? By telling him to welcome Sen. Bernie Sanders to the presidential race. In Spanish.
Que lastima, Mark Halperin. Que lastima.