Update: O'Donnell issued a heartfelt apology on his show Wednesday night. Video below the fold.
Did Lawrence O'Donnell, MSNBC's newest prime time talker, effectively call RNC chairman Michael Steele a black minstrel dancer? It sure seems that way.
I, like Mark Hemingway, am not a fan of "reading racial tea leaves just for political gain," but O'Donnell's statement, made Tuesday night, leaves very little room for interpretation:
As the first congressional election during his party chairmanship approaches, Michael Steele is dancing as fast as he can trying to charm independent voters and Tea Partiers while never losing sight of his real master and paycheck provider, the Republican National Committee.
So a black man is dancing to appeal to voters while still miniding his Republican masters? I'll have to check with Rev. Sharpton, but that sure sounds racist (video embedded below the fold).
At the very least, as Hemingway notes, there's a pretty blatant double standard at work:
Try, if you can, to imagine the outrage if Bill O'Reilly or some other Fox News personality had gone the air and said that the Democratic party was Barack Obama's "master." However, since Michael Steele is an African American who happens to be a Republican, I don't suspect too many members of the media will be beating down Lawrence O'Donnell's door and demanding an apology.
One need not even imagine a Fox News contributor saying something to this effect. Why, just last week, CNN canned one of its star anchors for making comments deeply offensive to Jewish people, and singling out Comedy Central faux news host Jon Stewart. Stewart forgave Rick Sanchez, but he was still fired.
Are MSNBC's standards lower, or is the comment simply not as offensive? We'll leave that for you to decide.
A spokesperson for the RNC declined to comment on O'Donnell's remarks.
O'Donnell took the high road and profusely apologized to Steele both over the phone to the chariman himself, and on the air during his show Wednesday night. Here's a video of the segment: