Ex-NYT Editor Swoons: ‘It’s a Historic Night in Alabama’ Putting State on the ‘Right Road’

Late Tuesday night, longtime New York Times editor Howell Raines joined MSNBC’s The 11th Hour to gush over the “historic night” in his home state of Alabama and declare that Democrat Doug Jones’s victory put the state on “the indisputably right road” “for the first time in 175 years.”

Channeling Michelle Obama, Raines sounded like he was finally proud to be an Alabamian, telling host Brian Williams before Williams could ask a question that “[i]t's a historic night in Alabama, I think.”

 

 

When asked to elaborate, Raines credited Jones for talking about the state being at a “crossroads” and he agreed, proclaiming that “for the first time in 175 years, we took the indisputably right road.”

Raines continued, seeming to imply that elected officials for almost two centuries have been in the shadow of George Wallace:

Whether that is permanent or not, but we can say two things with certainty. Alabama, for the moment, has thrown off the dead hand of George Wallace and we've crossed a demographic divide in which the modern urban educated, upwardly mobile population of Alabama has coalesced and for the first time brought Alabama to a place that Atlanta and Georgia, for example, passed in 1970. 

Williams offered zero pushback, instead asking him to elaborate on the notion that “there's no going back demographically.”

“I know Alabama too well to be that optimistic, Brian. Demographically, yes, there is no going back. And I think our feet are on the road that will take us in a different direction. But I think there could be significant bumps in the road,” Raines replied. 

Raines cited the election of  William Lowndes Yancey in 1844 prior to the Civil War as the start of a “terrifically harmful habit of electing people who are viewed as pariahs by the rest of the American political family and tonight was the most radical departure from that pattern in my lifetime.”

Huh. Although Raines left The Times in 2003, it’s safe to say that his paper and the rest of the media didn’t feel this way when Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat during the Massachusetts special election in 2010.

Oh wait, they did feel differently. Here’s a link to the NewsBusters archives starting just after Brown’s election.

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Here’s the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s The 11th Hour with Brian Williams on December 12:

MSNBC’s The 11th Hour with Brian Williams
December 12, 2017
11:35 p.m. Eastern

HOWELL RAINES: It's a historic night in Alabama, I think. 

WILLIAMS: Well, talk about it. What just happened to your home state? 

RAINES: Well, I think Doug Jones used the metaphor of the crossroads. I think that's right and for the first time in 175 years, we took the indisputably right road. Whether that is permanent or not, but we can say two things with certainty. Alabama, for the moment, has thrown off the dead hand of George Wallace and we've crossed a demographic divide in which the modern urban educated, upwardly mobile population of Alabama has coalesced and for the first time brought Alabama to a place that Atlanta and Georgia, for example, passed in 1970. 

WILLIAMS:  So you think there — you think what happened tonight, this is important, is for keeps, and put another way, there's no going back demographically? 

RAINES: No, I'm not — I know Alabama too well to be that optimistic, Brian. Demographically, yes, there is no going back. And I think our feet are on the road that will take us in a different direction. But I think there could be significant bumps in the road and you saw tonight from the churlish response of Judge Moore and for the President's comment, trying to cheapen the victory of Doug Jones by talking about write-ins. This is still a volatile, shifting environment that we're — that we’re experiencing here, but that doesn't take away from the fact that this is a night like no other for Alabama and I don't want to bore people with history, but in 1844, Alabama elected to Congress a man named William Lowndes Yancey who led Alabama and the nation in the Civil War and since then, we've had a terrifically harmful habit of electing people who are viewed as pariahs by the rest of the American political family and tonight was the most radical departure from that pattern in my lifetime and I think something else that bears talking about is what I think is an historic step taken by Senator Shelby, when he refused to vote for Doug — for Judge Moore. 


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NBDaily Campaigns & Elections Congress Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats Racism MSNBC The 11th Hour with Brian Williams Alabama Video Brian Williams Howell Raines Roy Moore Doug Jones Richard Shelby George Wallace
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