Massachusetts: Olbermann Cries Racism

Amidst the innumerable excuses we're bound to hear for Martha Coakley's defeat, credit Keith Olbermann with likely the most loathsome. The Countdown host would explain away the Scott Brown victory by accusing his supporters of . . .  racism.  [H/t reader Will H.]

Olbermann floated his despicable theory to Howard Fineman: "the Republicans and the Tea Partiers will tell you what happens with Scott Brown tonight whether he wins or comes close is a repudiation of Obama policies. And surely one of Obama's policies from the viewpoint of his opponents is it's OK to have this sea-change in American history—to have an African-American president. Is this vote to any degree just another euphemism the way 'states rights' was in the '60s?"   

I was hoping Howard would have the honesty and guts to immediately tell Olbermann where to go.  To the contrary, Fineman initially played along: "wow, that is a good question."  But by the end of the segment Fineman screwed his courage to the sticking point and proclaimed that he didn't see racism as a big factor.

KEITH OLBERMANN: One last aspect, and this is not necessarily pretty. 1964, 1965 the greatest years of civil-rights change in this country since Emancipation and in the 1966 midterms the Republicans took 47 seats from the House from the Democrats, and most of those elections had clear racial undertones, man had overtones.

The Republicans and the Tea Partiers will tell you what happens with Scott Brown tonight whether he wins or comes close is a repudiation of Obama policies. And surely one of Obama's policies from the viewpoint of his opponents is it's OK to have this sea-change in American history--to have an African-American president. Is this vote to any degree just another euphemism, the way 'states rights' was in the '60s?

HOWARD FINEMAN: Wow, that is a good question. I would look first at the polls. If you look at polling, all the new polls including the NBC poll and the CBS poll, Barack Obama is overwhelmingly liked personally by the American people. I think for most of the American people race is no respect a part of the equation. Maybe not in Massachusetts but maybe in some places there are codes, there are images, there are pick-up trucks. You can say there's a racial aspect --

OLBERMANN: O-o-o-f. What were the Scott Brown ads, though? Every one of the Scott Brown ads had him in a pick-up truck.

FINEMAN: That's why I mentioned pick-up trucks.  My mind goes back to Fred Thompson down in Tennessee. I really don't think, having covered some of the Tea Party events down in Kentucky, which is where I used to be a reporter, and knowing the history of this, I don't think it's so much a matter of race or even very, very much a matter a race at all, Keith. I think it's a matter of people in the suburbs and people outside of the cities feeling themselves not paid attention to by the quote elites.
This is a problem that the Democratic party has had year in and year out for decades. It's a code that Bill Clinton cracked, it's a code that to some extent Barack Obama cracked during the campaign.  He won Virginia, he won other places where rural votes, where exurban votes really mattered. And I think race really in the end wasn't a factor for him overall. I don't see it. You asked a question, I don't see it as a big factor yet in the Tea Party movement.  I don't know that it will be.
Olbermann began by saying his comment wouldn't necessarily be pretty.  He was, at least, truthful in that.

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.