It was a liberal-fest on MSNBC's weekly "New York Times Special Edition on MSNBC" show, hosted last Friday by John Harwood and Norah O'Donnell and featuring a rotating gaggle of Times reporters, both in studio and on location. To preface a discussion about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor about 20 minutes into the show, host Harwood (who also writes for the Times) broadcast a clip of former Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo describing the liberal Hispanic activist group La Raza, which Sotomayor once belonged to, as the "Latino KKK without the hoods and-or the nooses." For that bit of commentary, Harwood called Tancredo "a little kooky." Next, reporter Adam Nagourney accused Rush Limbaugh of "incendiary" comments on Sotomayor, while Sheryl Gay Stolberg lamented that "with an African-American president trying to bring people together, now we're seeing those old ugly culture and race wars bubble up, and it'll be interesting to see if President Obama himself can kind of tamp that down."From the Friday telecast on MSNBC:Host John Harwood: "Ok Adam. So, Tom Tancredo is a little kooky [cross-chat]....when that stuff is out there from a former Republican presidential candidate and congressman, how effectively can other Republicans separate themselves from that?"
National political reporter Adam Nagourney: "Well I think the problem for them is it comes at a time when Republicans are already struggling over how hard they want to go after her, because she is going to be, if nominated, if confirmed, the first Latina on the Supreme Court. And as you know, Republicans have seen a clear erosion of support from Hispanic voters over the past four years, so it is a problem for them. I mean, someone like him, if he can just be sort of portrayed as sort of an outlier....but it makes it harder, because it just sort of feeds what's been going on for the last couple of years, you know, the immigration legislation, some of the rhetoric that's been going on, so and it also, that other people on the right, however you want to define it, whether it's Rush Limbaugh, who are saying maybe things not quite as, inc-- what's the word?"
Nagourney: "I thought of that word." (Laughter)
Host Norah O'Donnell: "Sheryl, what about that? I mean it's no surprise that Rush Limbaugh is a huge critic of this president. But using words first, like she's a racist or a reverse racist, and now today essentially comparing her nomination to that of comparing, to nominating, David Duke to the Supreme Court. This extreme view, and sometimes, you know, can be helpful to the opposition. But when Rush Limbaugh is now someone that no one in the Republican Party will publicly denounce, how difficult does it make it for the Republicans?"
White House reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg: "Well I think it does make it hard. But I also think it's important to note that the people who actually will vote on her nomination, the Senate Judiciary Committee, have so far distanced themselves. We saw Orrin Hatch saying the other day, I disagree, I don't think she's a racist, he was disagreeing with Newt Gingrich, who called her a reverse racist. And also I think that it's important to note that this comes in the broader context of race relations in this country, with an African-American president trying to bring people together, now we're seeing those old ugly culture and race wars bubble up, and it'll be interesting to see if President Obama himself can kind of tamp that down."