Sunday, December 18, 2011


Regarding MSNBC's astonishing apology to the Romney campaign for the network's report of Mitt's use of a KKK slogan on the stump in Iowa, let's get down to brass tacks and recapitulate (no pun intended): The verbatim slogan —"keep America American" — wasn't an extemporaneous Mitt Romney statement, but written into a stump-style speech and repeated in a campaign ad. It's the kind of language that is typically poll-tested by GOP consultants to appeal to certain segments of the electorate, e.g., ultra-right wing GOP Iowa caucus voters that have been falsely labeled in a blanket benign description, as "evangelicals" by network personalities like Chuck Todd (his is the most hilarious of the promos) and other whitewash Beltway propagandists. There was no apparent due diligence by the network, not at the initial truthful reporting of Romney's use of a KKK slogan (except for a valid editorial concern that such reporting requires more background review of the kind I did), but at the highest suits level, when the Romney campaign's complaint to "alert them [MSNBC] of the misreporting" was taken at face value with a totally spineless cave-in apology.

The New York Times reported that the Romney campaign “did not specify what it believed to have been misreported.” Back in the day, a real news organization would have said something like this: "We stand by the facts of our report, which was corroborated by other news organizations, but regret we did not give the Romney campaign an opportunity to explain why the candidate has used a Ku Klux Klan slogan on at least two occasions." Indeed, the real misreporting was MSNBC's apology, in which it ignored not only the salient history of GOP candidates electioneering and pandering to the extreme right with use of code language, but the parallel and contextual explosive growth of racist hate groups, including in Iowa which leads the nation in KKK groups per capita:

"Mississippi is second only to Iowa in the number of Ku Klux Klan groups per capita, according to a report released [March, 2010] by the Southern Poverty Law Center."
"The rise in Klan membership in Mississippi coincides with what the center describes as an explosive growth over the past year in extremist organizations across the U.S. Anti-government groups saw a 244 percent increase.

Iowa, with a population of 3 million, has a dozen Klan groups. Mississippi, with a population of 2.9 million, has nine Klan groups, tied with Louisiana, which has 4.4 million.

Texas has the most with 26 groups, but it has a population more than eight times larger than Mississippi’s. Tennessee has 15 groups with a population of 6.2 million."
Note in particular what Mark Potok, Director of the Intelligence Project for the Southern Poverty Law Center, says about the Tea Party movement which comprises the base, and core, of Republican primary voters:

Meanwhile, MSNBC's consistent misreporting of racism by GOP candidates continues with its practice of unquestioned reporting of what the candidates say, seldom correcting the record or checking for accuracy and veracity. Ron Paul made a wry observation during the last debate that if the media "would do its job" he wouldn't have to run such negative ads against Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry. A typical example is Newt Gingrich recently calling President Obama "America's food stamp president." Once again, Newt was pandering to the racist vote. And while David Gregory deserves credit at least for raising the issue with Gingrich, the network's lack of spine when the right pushes back is ultimately what's truly appalling about its bogus apology to the Romney campaign. In a broader context, if MSNBC decides it will play both sides of the fence rather than be a news organization, we will be reduced to reading newspapers and blogs to get the objective facts and context.

Memo to David Gregory and his cohorts: There is something known as a followup question; and another followup, when the subject is unresponsive. Newt Gingrich has established a pattern of r-a-c-i-s-m, from his attacks on Muslims to President Obama. They all use racist code language that isn't even that sophisticated, because they can get away with it. Mitt Romney may not be a serial campaign racist, but he's joined the club in Iowa. Ron Paul, darling of brain-addled libertarian cultists and some temporarily insane progressives, denies he was responsible for, or knew anything about, the virulently racist statements written under his name in his newsletter (wink-wink). But he has close ties to Tea Party funders, the Koch brothers and would decimate all the programs that help minorities and the poor. Michele Bachmann and her prissy husband are known policy homophobes; they all are. And so it goes. I've grown tired of saying to no one in particular at MSNBC: "do your fucking jobs!" But I'll say it again, for old times sake.

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