Scarborough Fumes: Obama Was Shaded in NRA Ad to Make Him ‘Look More Ominous and Black’

Cole Sear from The Sixth Sense sees dead people, and Joe Scarborough, like pretty much everyone else at MSNBC, sees racism. That’s just the way it is. On Friday, the Morning Joe crew was chatting about a recent NRA attack ad against Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) when Scarborough took issue with the image of President Obama shown briefly in the ad:

"[P]eople called me up and said, what do you think of, do you think that they may have shaded that ad to make Barack Obama look more ominous and black?"
 

(MP3 audio here.)

Is there any chance Scarborough would not buy into a conspiracy theory like this? Of course not: “It's so obvious. Look at his hands. It looks like he is a coal miner from West Virginia. Look how dark they made his hands. Look at the side of his face.”  Co-host Mika Brzezinski joined in, scolding the NRA: “Note to the NRA: people don't do this anymore.”

If Scarborough and Brzezinski had taken an honest look at that ad, surely they would have noticed that most of Obama’s face, as well as the palm of his hand, actually appeared whiter than usual. His fingers and the side of his face did appear to be shaded, but so was half of Manchin’s face in the image shown at the end of the ad. In addition, parts of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s face were in shadow when his image was shown next to Obama’s. So the picture of Obama seems to fit in with the lighting scheme of the entire ad.

Scarborough then implored his audience to call the NRA and find out who produced the ad. In his opinion, it was one of three unnamed members of the gun rights group who work in the NRA's lobbying arm in the nation's capital. "[W]hich of the three members that have hijacked the NRA from its 4 million members, good men and women, law-abiding women across the United States of America. Who is responsible for that? Don't call me. Call them and ask who did this," Scarborough thundered.

Scarborough’s outrage over this NRA ad contains a strong whiff of liberalism for someone who claims to be a conservative. After all, it is liberals who berate the NRA mercilessly, and liberals are the ones who often detect racism where none exists.

Below is a transcript of the segment:

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Yesterday, you look at this and people – people called me up and said, what do you think of, do you think that they may have shaded that ad to make Barack Obama look more ominous and black? You know, I usually pick up the phone and call and respond. It's so obvious. Look at his hands. It looks like he is a coal miner from West Virginia. Look how dark they made his hands. Look at the side of his face.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Note to the NRA, people don't do this anymore.

SCARBOROUGH: This is a question that answers itself. You don’t have to call me up and ask me if I think the Washington NRA shaded Barack Obama's hands. Why don't we just look at this picture? You can do this at home. And just compare what they've done to Barack Obama's hands and the side of his face to every other picture you've seen of Barack Obama. Listen, I have been critical of those on the left when they have used race and it's happened. It happens every election – to race bait. I'm certainly going to be critical when people on my side, on the right, do the same thing. This is an example. Look at the hands. Look at the side of the face. You don't have to call me up. You just need to find out who produced this ad for the NRA, who approved this ad for the NRA.

BRZEZINSKI: The NRA.

SCARBOROUGH: But which three members – which of the three members that have hijacked the NRA from its 4 million members, good men and women, law-abiding women across the United States of America. Who is responsible for that? Don't call me. Call them and ask who did this. Any questions on whether somebody may have shaded that with PhotoShop?

WILLIE GEIST: Unless they caught them at the one press conference where he had a vacation beard, that is not – an original photo

BRZEZINSKI: And was in shadow.

SCARBOROUGH: And he had vacation – vacation beard on his hand too. Only I grow hair on my knuckles. Nobody else does that.

JON MEACHAM: That's true.

SCARBOROUGH: That's my gig.

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.