There's no question Strom Thurmond had a racist past, some of which he later disavowed but when Chris Matthews claimed the late South Carolina governor and senator "hanged a few people," on the 7pm edition of Monday's, "Hardball" just what was the MSNBC host implying? Matthews seemed to be claiming that the former Democrat turned Republican senator was personally involved in lynchings.
The following exchange occurred during a discussion on the December 10, "Hardball" with Newsweek’s Howard Fineman about Oprah Winfrey stumping for Barack Obama in South Carolina:
HOWARD FINEMAN: I was in South Carolina, I saw that rally down there in the football stadium and it was electric. It was-
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Did you have a helicopter at your disposal this weekend? You were everywhere.
FINEMAN: No, no I was just there. That's the only place I was.
FINEMAN: And I though it was historic. This is the city, this was the city in which Strom Thurmond rose as a Dixiecrat-
FINEMAN: -in the old days. The center of segregation.
MATTHEWS: He hanged a few people down there too, didn't he?
FINEMAN: Okay, the center of segregation.
FINEMAN: Here you had 25, 30,000 people in football stadium. I'd say about 80 percent of them African-Americans wanting to know is he the real deal. You know, should we commit to him.