A black Democrat runs for political office, and Republicans sponsor an advertisement attacking his record. Democrats assert that the commercial has racial overtones. Republicans claim that the ad makes a perfectly valid point about the candidate’s hypocrisy, as well as his devious way of answering questions.
A responsible media outlet describing such a commercial would simply report all the relevant facts, and let its readers decide which interpretation is true. (It might even link the ad on the Web version of its article!)
By contrast, an irresponsible leftist media outlet that favored the “racial overtones” explanation would present only those facts that support the assertion that the commercial is racially charged. Meanwhile, any hint that the commercial might be making a legitimate point would be excised from the story — neatly and cleanly, like a skilled surgeon removes a cancerous growth.
If the operation is successful, readers will never know there is another side to the story.
I’ll give you one guess as to which way the L.A. Times handled one such situation yesterday.
[Cue Jeopardy theme music.]
The correct answer, as you have no doubt guessed, is that the L.A. Times handled this situation with the hackery and dishonesty that you have come to expect from this newspaper.
The short version is that the paper has an entire article about how Republicans are racist for running a commercial in which a white actress says she met Ford at a “Playboy party.” Yet the article fails entirely to explain the relevance of the reference: namely, that there is an ongoing controversy in Tennessee regarding Ford’s attendance at a Playboy party, including his and his campaign’s lame attempts to implicitly deny it. Readers are left completely in the dark — as L.A. Times readers so often are.
Here are the full details:
Yesterday the L.A. Times ran an article titled GOP attack ad draws heat for racial overtones. The deck headline read: “The Tennessee spot is denounced as more of the ‘Southern strategy.'” The story opens:
A new Republican Party television ad featuring a scantily clad white woman winking and inviting a black candidate to “call me” is drawing charges of race-baiting, with critics saying it contradicts a landmark GOP statement last year that the party was wrong in past decades to use racial appeals to win support from white voters.
Ah, “critics.” Isn’t it wonderful how they tend to hold leftist viewpoints? That’s why I love reading their opinions in newspapers. I’m sure you feel the same way. At least, the L.A. Times is sure that you do — and so the article is filled to the brim with opinions from the “critics.” Let’s hear more from them, shall we?
Critics said the ad, which is funded by the Republican National Committee and has aired since Friday, plays on fears of interracial relationships to scare some white voters in rural Tennessee to oppose Democratic Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. Ford is locked in a tight race, hoping to become the first African American senator since Reconstruction to represent a state in the former Confederacy.
“It is a powerful innuendo that plays to pre-existing prejudices about African American men and white women,” said [critic] Hilary Shelton, head of the Washington office of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, the country’s oldest civil rights organization.
A former Republican senator, [critic] William S. Cohen of Maine, was more blunt. Cohen, who was also Defense secretary under President Clinton, said on CNN that the ad was “a very serious appeal to a racist sentiment.”
We hear plenty more from the critics during the course of the article, but first let’s find out what the commercial actually says. There’s no link, of course, so we’ll have to settle for a verbal description of this insidious ad:
The 30-second ad features fictional characters satirizing Ford.
A black woman notes that Ford “looks good” and asks, “Isn’t that enough?” Others suggest Ford backs privacy for terrorists, accepts money from the pornography industry, wants to raise taxes and backs letting Canada deal with the North Korea nuclear threat.
The character who has raised complaints is a blond woman who speaks in a hushed, suggestive tone and says that she met Ford at “the Playboy party.”
At the end of the ad, she reappears and says: “Harold, call me.” She winks and holds her hand up as if holding a phone.
So a character — one of several in this 30-second commercial — says that she met Ford at “the Playboy party.” Hmmmm. What’s that all about?
Incredibly, the article never tells us. Instead, it leaves the reader with the impression that this is simply a white woman conjured up out of thin air by racist Republicans to scare hick white trash in Tennessee with the thought that she might have a relationship with a black man. The article is nothing but a long series of complaints from critics screaming that the ad is nothing but base racism. Only a single brief pause for a defensive-sounding and entirely unilluminating quote from a Republican shill fulfills the mandatory obligation of presenting the “other side.”
The idea that there might be a controversy involving Ford and a “Playboy party” never quite gets mentioned . . . even once.
“Playboy party”?? What is this mention of a “Playboy party”?!?! Why, Times reporters and editors have no idea what the commercial is talking about!!
Well, guess what? There is indeed a controversy involving Ford and a Playboy party. Unlike most L.A. Times readers, Tennessee voters know exactly what the ad is referring to. Byron York recently explained:
One minor argument in the Tennessee Senate race is over Rep. Harold Ford’s reported attendance at a Super Bowl party thrown by Playboy magazine in Jacksonville in 2005. Republicans, who note that Ford has taped a campaign ad inside a church, accuse him of hypocrisy — of partying with Playmates and then promoting himself as a man of faith.
Now, I’ll grant you that this may not be the most effective controversy ever raised by a political campaign. Glenn Reynolds calls it “pretty weak tea,” and I tend to agree.
But the L.A. Times has no business pretending that the controversy doesn’t even exist. For all I know, the “Playboy party” controversy resonates with some voters — for completely non-racist reasons. After all, some voters are more moralistic than Glenn Reynolds is — or than I am, for that matter. And if a political campaign wants to play to those voters, it’s a legitimate point of attack.
Apparently Harold Ford, Jr. and his campaign are worried about this . . . because they weaseled the issue, big-time. And, just as the cover-up is always worse than the crime, the Ford campaign’s sneaky attempts to mislead voters on the issue are actually a legitimate issue, even if the initial moralistic accusation might have been a poor argument for some voters. For more on Ford’s slippery treatment of this issue, let’s go to the Hendersonville Star News:
The way Republicans like to tell it, Harold Ford Jr. partied with Playboy playmates at a Super Bowl Party last year.
So, was he there or not?
Responses from the Memphis Democrat and his campaign have varied:
His campaign, when asked Monday, said the war in Iraq, not Playboy parties, is what reporters should be inquiring about in the U.S. Senate race.
Then, later in the day, campaign adviser Michael Powell said, “Consider the source. It was in a gossip column.”
In Ford’s own words, he told interviewer George Stephanopoulos a couple of Sundays ago, “I’ve never been to a Playboy mansion party.”
Which is true . . . in the Clintonian sense. Meaning that it’s technically true, but designed to mislead. As it turns out, Ford did indeed attend the Playboy Super Bowl party. It’s just that this particular Playboy party, with its scantily-clad Playmates, took place in Jacksonville, Florida — not at the Playboy mansion in California.
So Ford tried to mislead people with a technically accurate but highly deceptive comment.
Tennessee voters have heard about that, too.
But not one word of this controversy makes it into the article in the Los Angeles Times. There is not one word about the possible hypocrisy of a candidate who films campaign commercials in churches, but parties with Playboy bunnies. (I just want to see you try to claim with a straight face that a Republican candidate could get away with that.) There is not one word about the fact that his campaign spokesman tried to suggest that the rumors of his attendance at the party were false, when Ford damn well knew they were true. There is not one word about the fact that Ford falsely implied — with a highly technical and carefully worded denial — that he had not attended a Playboy party.
Nope. None of this merits space in the article. Because it’s all about the racism!!
But Ford is black, and the actresss who claims she met Ford at a Playboy party is white!! Surely that’s racist!! Except that, as Allahpundit notes:
Of course, if they’d used a black actress instead, the left would want to know why they’d deliberately broken from the stereotype of the blonde white playmate.
Come on. Try to deny it.
The L.A. Times article ends with this passage, which (like the rest of the article) virtually screams the message: “We love Ford and think that his opponent is a big jerk!”:
A new response ad by Ford that began airing Monday features the candidate, talking to the camera, accusing [Ford opponent Bob] Corker of unleashing attacks rather than talking issues.
“If I had a dog,” Ford says, “he’d probably kick him too.”
This article is one big advertisement for Harold Ford, Jr.
P.S. There is no link to the actual ad in the Web version of the Times article, which is just pathetic and lazy. It’s inexcusable to run an entire article about an ad without giving readers a link to the ad, so they can watch it themselves. Blogs treat you better. You can watch the ad here.