On the morning of March 22, 2021, four days after McCammond resigned, Rev. Al Sharpton, Professor Eddie Glaude, Jr., NBC News contributor Kurt Bardella, and journalist Cat Rakowski sat down with “Morning Joe” hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC to discuss the controversy.
The conversation, centered around the topic of forgiveness and accountability amidst cancel culture, was prefaced by statistics showing Americans’ dissatisfaction with cancel culture alongside Brzezinski reading an excerpt from Graeme Wood’s article in the Atlantic titled, “America Has Forgotten How to Forgive.”
Bardella was first to answer the question of what he thought of McCammond’s resignation, saying, “I thought it was a remarkable act of cowardice on Condé Nast’s part to do what they did to Alexi. I know Alexi. She is someone that I am very glad to call a friend. She is someone, actually who I think of as being very tolerant … If we are going to live in a society where someone can’t be given the opportunity and the room to go through that growth experience, then I don’t know what the hell we’re all doing up here...”
Bardella later continued, “There is such a far departure from where that conversation begins [anti-Asian discrimination] and what has actually happened with Alexi. Completely different. Not even in the same solar system. For the Asian American community, which this is somewhat about, in my opinion, this is a massive loss for us to lose someone who would have unquestionably been a strong advocate for our community.”
Brzezinski then addressed Professor Eddie Glaude, Jr., recalling Galude’s tweet from March 20 quoting James Baldwin: “‘I would like us to do something unprecedented: to create ourselves without finding it necessary to create an enemy.’ -James Baldwin.” It was a tweet that McCammond had retweeted from Glaude that same day.
Glaude responded, “We have to hold off a kind of over-heated virtue that leads to these judgements. … I was horrified that these tweets of Alexi’s haunted her from when she was 17… [But] I’m thinking about the young folk who are in that newsroom at Teen Vogue, I’m thinking about … Alexi, even though she apologizes, does she need to lead in this moment?”
Rev. Sharpton, when asked for his opinion, said, “I think we have to have a culture of accountability … I’ve said things that I’ve had to apologize for … But they will always try to use that in a ‘cancel’ way … Yes, be accountable, but yes, move on and grow.”
Later in the discussion, Bardella emphasized that “Nothing is more powerful than taking someone who may have transgressed at some point and turning them into an advocate.”
“What I hope Alexi will do,” Glaude said, “what I know she will do, is to continue to be the reporter that she is. And … to be an example of this earned togetherness close to the ground.”
Brzezinski responded, “Eddie, she will be … She’s actually doing everything that needs to be done again and again and again … Companies need to change. Companies need to admit when something is wrong. Teen Vogue needs to turn it around. We need an environment where when someone has done something wrong, they can apologize … I’ll stand up for Alexi. She shouldn’t have been fired. Hands down. I’m not afraid to say it. Is anyone else?”
Rakowski, who had written an article for NBC News the day prior about atonement amidst anti-Asian discrimination, delivered her closing remarks, saying, “I think there are so many people who are fixated on their anger. And it may be righteous anger. That’s not enough. We need to move forward, we need to move through it … Grace and accountability live happily together if we can get there. ”