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Chuck Todd flipping the bird apparently isn't the only incendiary thing to happen on the MSNBC yesterday -- the cable news network last night had to apologize for trying to tie some of the Romney campaign's rhetoric to the Ku Klux Klan. The phrase used by both Romney and the Klan? "Keep America American." Under the caption "Romney's KKK Slogan," anchor Thomas Roberts said, "So you may not hear Mitt Romney say 'Keep America American' anymore, because it was a rallying cry for the KKK group, and intimidation against blacks, gays and Jews, and the progressive AMERICAblog was the first to catch on to that."

That throw-away item during yesterday's broadcast was apparently too much for Chris Matthews and MSNBC's brass. "We reported on a blog item that compared a phrase used by the Romney campaign to one used by the KKK way back in the 1920s," Matthews said during Hardball last night. "It was irresponsible and incendiary of us to do this, and it showed an appalling lack of judgment. We apologize, we really do, to the Romney campaign.” The station's Al Sharpton piled on later that night: "as someone who has been a victim of unproven innuendo and half-truths I agree the report was not proper if you could nail down all the facts." The lack of judgement? Apparently, the Romney camp didn't claim that Romney hadn't used the slogan (he has, as recently as last week) or that the phrase wasn't actually once used by the KKK (it was) -- but that MSNBC didn't do their journalistic due diligence and call the Romney campaign for comment. "Officials at MSNBC and NBC News were disturbed that the blog’s observation was passed along as-is, without any added reporting — like a comment from the Romney campaign," reports The New York Times. That's fair -- the slogan is vague and meaningless enough that it's very unlikely Romney's people plucked the phrase from KKK literature -- but that's not satisfying the blog that broke the "Keep America American" story. AMERICAblog has struck right back at MSNBC. "Since MSNBC's multiple on-air apologizes last night for daring to even mention this story, even though it's true, we've uncovered someone else who likes this phrase a lot: MSNBC's own Pat Buchanan," writes the blog's John Aravosis.

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