N!**@r Ha Ha

Everybody’s been talking–and celebrating–Chris Matthews for calling out Reince Priebus on the way the GOP has been playing the race card, both with its welfare reform ad campaign and with Romney’s joke about Obama’s birth certificate. (Tom Edsall’s piece on racism has also gotten a lot of attention this morning.)

Yeah, it’s a rare and welcome occurrence.

But the focus on Matthews has distracted from the response.

Mika Brzezinski: Because he’s an awkward joker.

Joe Scarborough: Because he misfired badly on a joke.

Tom Brokaw: I think it was a demonstration of his awkward sense of humor.

Reince Priebus: You know what? We’ve gotten to a place in politics that any moment of levity is totally frowned upon by guys like you just so that you can push your brand. You know what? Good for you. It’s a moment of levity. Everybody gets it.

Every other participant in this panel turned on Matthews because he refused to overlook the racist presumption of the joke. “Everybody gets it.” Mitt’s problem, these pundits argue, was not in nodding to the racist ravings of a significant portion of the right, but instead in his poor delivery, his awkward sense of humor. And then Priebus upped the ante, arguing that politicians should be allowed to make these kinds of jokes, and if they’re not it must be just self-promotion of the guy calling them out.

This is where the game the pundits have made of presidential elections gets exposed most starkly. It’s a tragedy it’s a game in the first place. It’s never about how ending Medicare will result in spiking senior poverty; it’s never about how increasing tax cuts for the super-rich will continue to strip our country.

But here we have three pundits and the head of a major party assuming–even demanding–that candidates be allowed to make racist jokes with no censure.

16 replies
  1. allan says:

    But it’s of course an asymmetric situational ethics.
    Just imagine if the president had jokingly referred
    to Romney as “whitey”, or made fun of his basketball skills.

  2. emptywheel says:

    @allan: The analogy I made to some Republicans on Twitter was, what would the reaction be if Obama said, “No one ever asks if I’m in a cult–everyone knows that I’m a Christian”?

  3. BSbafflesbrains says:

    Unless you are in a swing State vote third party and not for incumbents otherwise. This meaningless boobus americanus has got to stop.

  4. katie jensen says:

    I found that part of it demoralizing. It’s right in front of their face and not one had the courage to call it.

  5. jawbone says:

    Drat, I’m borrowing a laptop and finding the flat, smaller keyboard a real bitch to type on. I must have hit something which erased the opening grafs of my comment. An attempt to summarize:

    Tweety occasionally says and does good things. These times are usually rare.

    The reactions of the other pundits indicate to me the MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media) has decided to go full bore for Romney, but with plausible deniability.

    The Brian Willams Rock Center documentary about Mormons in America seemed to me to be pretty hagiographic, with special emphasis on how many Mormons lead big businesses and thus –ta dah!– you unemployed votes should vote for Romney and get a good job with a kind and caring Mormon boss. Whoohooo!

    My first two links are to the doc video, article. The third is just a Bing search listing of reactions, reviews.

  6. thatvisionthing says:

    I’m wondering, was there a comparable anchorperson moment after the Howard Dean “scream” that canned his candidacy in 2004? Telling us from their professional experience how it was the directional mike only picking up Dean’s voice as he tried to be heard above the loud room noise? Diane Sawyer reported about it later, asking the reporters who were covering the room what they saw and heard, but I don’t remember any reporter explainers at the time.


  7. OrionATL says:

    the key point is this:

    every single one of those four men knew, without any doubt in their minds, that romney was alluding to obama’s “foreignness”, his “mu slimness”, his “unamericaness”.

    every one of those four men knew, without a doubt in their minds, that this was a romney-campaign-advisers-orchestrated appeal to the goofball right-wing voters who distrust romney.

    yet every one of those four men refused to acknowledge publicly what they would have acknowledged privately.

    they lied to their viewers.

    they lied because they were afraid of the flak they would catch from an orchestrated republican attack on each one,

    and because they were afraid for the damage telling it like it is would do to their careers (and behind that fear lay the fell hand of a corporation – a news corporation).

    this is a story about abject professional cowardice.

  8. BSbafflesbrains says:

    Fallacious argument like ad hominem and counter attack should be reserved to the reality show not the so called “newsroom”. MSM has nothing to offer an informed voter about Candidates or Platforms or Policy.

  9. OrionATL says:


    well, one was not a newsman, but the head of the rnc.

    you could tell him from the others by his studied use of non-verbal language, especially that conveying contempt.

    come to think of it, why was the head of the rnc on a panel with newspeople?

    to ride herd on the discussion.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Why are these pundits doing Mitt’s campaign’s job of pretending that his statements, rather than Mitt, are jokes, whose only problem is that they are badly delivered? This is support in the guise of criticism, attempting to generate credibility that Mitt himself can’t muster.

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