Politico reporter Jonathan Martin on Tuesday mocked the "cracker counties" of Florida's conservative Panhandle. Talking to Daily Rundown host Chuck Todd, he derided, "Chuck, a lot of the counties in the Panhandle, in north Florida, the cracker counties, if you will...more resemble Georgia and Alabama than they do Florida." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
MSNBC anchor Chuck Todd appeared indifferent to this attack, agreeing, "right." That area of Florida, of course, is where fellow MSNBC host Joe Scarborough represented when he was a member of Congress. No word yet on how Scarborough has reacted. [See update below.]
Martin, as of 11:35am EST, has not apologized on his Twitter page.
Martin's insult came as he was trying to explain how North Florida could be instructive for future, southern primaries: "I think the other reason why north Florida is going to be fascinating to watch tonight is because it's going to give us a sense of what's ahead in March, when this primary does move to the deep south states."
UPDATE: 2012-01-31 13:05:32
Some have asserted that Martin meant the word "cracker" as a reference to native Floridians and not in a racial way. However, the Politico reporter wasn't on local Florida TV and the rest of the country sees the term as an insult.
The context of the comment came while talking about conservative Southerners. Remember, Martin claimed that Florida is "going to give us a sense of what's ahead in March, when this primary does move to the Deep South states."
Certainly, the use of the N-word, or some derivative, would not so easily be explained away.
A transcript of the January 31st Daily Rundown exchange can be found below:
CHUCK TODD: But Jonathan, going back to Gingrich, he doesn't seem to have a strategy in Florida. It's been odd. It's been all messaging, but I haven't seen an overly played Georgia card, for instance, in Jacksonville.
JONATHAN MARTIN (Politico): No. Look, I think the problem that Newt has had here is the problem that he had in Iowa, the attacks on him have gotten into his head and that has sort of consumed his entire focus. And Romney folks knew that, and that's what the goal was entirely, as Jeff and Jim Rutenberg reported on Sunday, was to get in Newt's head, and it's worked effectively here. Look, we saw Newt yesterday here in Tampa. It's hard to discern a message, besides the fact that he's angry towards Romney. And, obviously, that's not terribly effective. He does have an element of strong message, which is pitting himself as the leader of this insurgent movement against the establishment. The challenge is, he can't just drive that message. He sort of scatter shot all about. Chuck, one last thing on the map, though, if I could. I think the other reason why north Florida is going to be fascinating to watch tonight is because it's going to give us a sense of what's ahead in March, when this primary does move to the deep south states, because as you know, Chuck, a lot of the counties in the panhandle, in north Florida, the cracker counties, if you will-
MARTIN: -more resemble Georgia and Alabama than they do Florida. So, it's going to be interesting to see if Romney can really show some signs of strength in and around places like Pensacola, Panama City, Tallahassee and Jacksonville.