When Bob Herbert, a columnist for the New York Times since 1993, recently charged in his column that the Republican Party deliberately targets black Democrats using ads featuring attractive white women to exploit racial resentment, and claimed as proof that the GOP does not run such ads against opponents who are white, the liberal columnist could have disproved this thesis by consulting a 1994 article in the paper he writes for regarding that year's Virginia Senate race involving former Senator Charles Robb, a white Democrat. The New York Times article, titled "THE 1994 CAMPAIGN: THE AD CAMPAIGN; The Senate Race in Virginia: Robb and North Trade Barbs," from October 15, 1994, describes an ad run by Republican Oliver North's campaign depicting the Playboy cover image of Tai Collins, a young blonde with whom Democrat Robb was romantically linked. (Transcript follows)
The article, which can be found here, visually describes the ad: "A black and white, slow-motion close-up shot of Mr. Robb serves as background for reproductions of newspaper articles, a Playboy cover and a list of four Robb acquaintances convicted of drug charges." An image of the October 1991 Playboy cover featuring Collins, presumably the same one used in the 1994 ad, can be seen here.
The article also quotes the ad's narrator: "Why can't Chuck Robb tell the truth? About the cocaine parties where Robb said he never saw drugs. Then four of his party friends were sent to prison for dealing cocaine. Or about the beauty queen in the hotel room in New York. Robb says it was only a massage."
When Herbert appeared on Monday's Morning Joe on MSNBC, he argued that Republicans deliberately target black Democrats to the exclusion of white Democrats, and cited not only the anti-Obama ad showing brief clips of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, but also an ad from 2006 against former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, who is black, and asked why white Democrats are never similarly targeted. Herbert: "I put it in the context of the ad that was run against Harold Ford in 2006. And you explain to me why you have these scantily clad women, or women known to be scantily clad, women who have trouble keeping their clothes on, only in ads where the candidate is a black male, where the person being attacked is a black male. Why is that? Coincidence? Do we have it against, you know, John Kerry? Did we have it against Al Gore? Did we have it against Bill Clinton? Why is that?"
The Chuck Robb example shows that white Democrats are indeed subject to similar ads if theirs is a situation that lends itself to that type of attack. And it is ironic that this example was documented in the very paper Herbert writes for the year after he joined it.
Newbuster Mark Finkelstein previously documented, with video, Herbert's mistake, also on Monday's Morning Joe, of believing images of the Victory Column in Berlin were the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Washington Monument, as well as his bizarre theory that these were intentionally included in the ad by the McCain campaign as "phallic" symbols.
Below is a transcript of relevant comments from Herbert from the Monday, August 4, Morning Joe on MSNBC:
BOB HERBERT: You guys have seen the ad a number of times, I am sure, and you have it here in-house. First thing you see are a couple of images of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, right? And we see an image of Barack Obama right after that, comes quickly at the beginning of the ad. You remember that, right? Do you remember any other startling images right there at the beginning? [NO ONE RESPONDS] All right. There is an image right there in that very beginning of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and there is an image of the Washington Monument. Look at the beginning of that ad again. And you tell me why those two phallic symbols are placed there. [SNAPS FINGERS] Pow, right at the very beginning of that ad. You tell me.
SEVERAL PANELISTS SAY: Isn't that the Victory Column?
HERBERT: And also the, well, it looked like the Leaning Tower, but it's definitely a phallic [UNABLE TO HEAR WORD], right in the beginning, and the Washington Monument. So you explain to me why there are two phallic symbols immediately in those first few seconds of that ad. And I put it in the context of the ad that was run against Harold Ford in 2006. And you explain to me why you have these scantily clad women, or women known to be scantily clad, women who have trouble keeping their clothes on, only in ads where the candidate is a black male, where the person being attacked is a black male. Why is that? Coincidence? Do we have it against, you know, John Kerry? Did we have it against Al Gore? Did we have it against Bill Clinton? Why is that?