Battle of the Doughboys: Hannity and Carlson Criticize Obama for Pretending to be Black
Quite a few have opined already on the appearance yesterday of The New Whitey Tape circulated with a fanfare of clown horns by Tucker Carlson of the Daily Caller via Drudge, and unsurprisingly joyously championed by Fox News’s resident race expert Sean Hannity.
Sadly for Drudge, Carlson, Hannity, and their rightwing online allies, when lined up for comment, usually reliable scenters of racially tinged opportunism Allen West and Newt Gingrich greeted it with a resounding “What’s the ‘So what’ of this video? I don’t think it’s going to really go anywhere” from the former, and “I don’t think this particular speech is definitive,” from the latter. “This hurts Mitt,” BuzzFeed reports 2008 Romney campaign consultant Alex Castellanos as saying. “Mitt’s window to turn the economic debate around is [Wednesday.] And his alleged supporters just shit on it. An abysmally selfish and stupid event.”
Even the current Romney campaign is cravenly anxious to distance itself from this well-meaning assist from The Borg:
The Romney campaign, as host Soledad O’Brien noted, recently released a statement saying it is not involved in distributing the video. Cutter responded, pointing out the people she thinks are responsible:
Well, I think allies to Mitt Romney are responsible and I think that the Romney campaign should stand up and do the right thing and say that it was irresponsible to do something like that, particularly on the eve of the debate.
And it was so transparent, what they were trying to do. Mitt Romney has been taking heat for weeks now for his secret comments behind closed doors with his wealthy donors that he didn’t care about half of this country. Their answer to that is to put out an already publicly-released speech that the President gave five years ago where he was talking about the reaction to Hurricane Katrina and the inadequate reaction to Hurricane Katrina. You know what, it’s an interesting strategy by Mitt Romney and his allies that they actually want to defend the Bush administration response.
When O’Brien pointed out that it sounded as if Cutter was holding Romney responsible for the tape’s re-release, Cutter insisted that she thought it was allies to the campaign that were responsible, not Romney or the campaign itself.
We’ve covered for many months now the transparent links and overlaps between the Romney campaign and what I’ve chosen to term in shorthand “The Borg”—the rightwing online echo chamber headed by Drudge that serves as an arm of Romney’s online presence—so Cutter’s just stating the obvious here, as Steve Kornacki and others can confirm:
The connection between the Romney camp and Drudge has been well-known for years: Matt Rhoades, who cultivated the reclusive Drudge while serving as the RNC’s research director last decade and who has been with Romney in each of his national campaigns. In both 2008 and 2012, Drudge’s favorable treatment of Romney and frequently unflattering coverage of them was a source of considerable irritation among rival campaigns. Drudge’s all-out assault on Newt Gingrich after his South Carolina primary victory this year offered a vivid demonstration of the phenomenon.
I’ve said all along that this association would end up with Romney covered in cooties. It’s not my fault they chose to ignore my advice. The fact that this affair gives me yet another legitimate opportunity to link Romney and some of the most blatant racebaiters in current political discourse is just another shot in the foot for Mitt’s disastrous campaign, and a cherry on the cupcake for me.
Which leads me to file the desperate flailing to assert that there is too a valid point in dragging up a five-year-old recording at this precise point in the election cycle over the course of a couple of clips of Carlson’s appearance on yesterday’s Hannity show under “Comedy” rather than “Tragedy.” Desperate to drum up charges of racebaiting, they take it off the scale themselves, but they’re too puffed-up in self-importance, self-absorbed, and plain dumb to realize it.
I’m not going to get into the weeds of arguing about Obama’s comments on shortcomings in the federal response to Katrina, except to say that if Carlson and Hannity want to portray the whole episode as an unflawed triumph of state intervention in a natural disaster and its aftermath, good luck with that. More fun were the repeated attempts to portray Obama as inauthentically black—a subject on which Hannity and Carlson are obviously the ultimate arbiters—along with the resurrection of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright as Bogeyman-in-Chief.
Here’s a clip of the first part of the Hannity/Carlson meltdown:
From which I’ll cherrypick:
Hannity: You notice a change in the way he delivers the speech before a predominantly African-American audience?
Carlson: Well, the accent, let me just be clear, and anyone who just watched it and who’s seen Obama speak in public over the last ten years will note, this accent is absurd. This is not the way Obama talks, at least it’s not the way he’s talked in the dozens, the scores, of speeches I’ve watched him give, or public appearances I’ve seen him make. This is a put-on. This is phoney, that’s what the issue is.
“And I would say whether he was putting on a southern accent or Asian accent, it doesn’t matter. He is playing a role in one of these cases. It is not clear in which one. I assume in the Hamptons speech he is putting on a persona he doesn’t usually occupy to pander to the crowd, but who knows?”
I probably don’t have to point out that many people—not just politicians—change their accent and mode of speech depending on the audience they’re addressing. It’s actually a key skill of rhetoric and a natural way of relating for many. Of course, if your natural style of speech reeks of privilege as much as Hannity and Carlson’s, you’ve probably never felt the need to make such accommodations. Presumably Carlson and Hannity fell for the myth that President George W. Bush was a simple cowpoke never happier than when clearing a curiously persistent stand of brush on his now-abandoned ranch for eight long summers, rather than the Ivy League spawn of generations of wealthy politicians.
More Hannitylarity lurks in the clip of the second part:
And again I’ll cherrypick:
Carlson: ... people say this has already been reported, well it hasn’t been reported, and I know, because I reported on it the first time.
[Rev. Wright, in a clip from an earlier interview with Hannity, chuckles at a preceding exchange]
Hannity [interrupting testily]: You’re very angry and defensive, I’m just trying to ask a question here.
[the rest of the clip is untranscribable as it consists of an increasingly ruddy Hannity vehemently talking over and seeking to silence a growingly impatient Rev. Wright]
In any case, if we’re playing guilt by association, Hannity’d be well advised to keep his trap shut. Nobody had to go back five years to find this, just four or so:
It quotes Hal Turner:
I was quite disappointed when Sean Hannity at first tried to say he didn’t know me and then went on to say that I ran some senate campaign in New Jersey. In fact, Sean Hannity does know me and we were quite friendly a number of years ago.
… When Hannity took over Bob Grant’s spot on 77 WABC in New York City, I was a well-known, regular and welcome caller to his show. Through those calls, Sean and I got to know each other a bit and at some point, I can’t remember exactly when, Sean gave me the secret “Guest call-in number” at WABC so that my calls could always get on the air.
When I utilized that call-in number, Sean would very often come onto that line during commercial breaks so we could chat before I went on the air. Our off-the-air chats grew to an exchange of other phone numbers, me giving Sean my home and cellular number and Sean giving me his direct dial-in number at Fox News channel.
In 1993, My wife got pregnant and around a month later, Sean reported that he and his wife were expecting their first child. We got to talking about things expectant dads talk about and the relationship grew.
… Over the course of the next three or four years, Sean and I spoke regularly off the air about our kids, politics and news of the day. My on-air calls to his show remained regular and welcome.
And no post on Carlson and long-ago recordings would be complete without Jon Stewart’s epic legendary takedown of Carlson, from which his career has rightly never recovered, hence yesterday’s outbursts in his desperation to regain some relevance. The fact that he’s played a key role in doling out yet another embarrassment to Mitt Romney and his online hordes is just gravy.
More: Michael Lester at TPM cherrypicks a little more:
Hannity Goes Into ‘Al Gore Preacher Mode’ Over Old Obama Video
With Carlson accusing the president of “whipping up racial hatred and fear,” Hannity decided the best way to get his audience engaged was with an impression of what he described as “Al Gore preacher mode.” The result had Hannity adding a cartoonish drawl and baritone to his voice for a few moments.
“Republicans have the wrooong agenda for African Americans,” Hannity said in his mocking tone.
“Exactly,” Carlson replied.