NEW YORK — Conservative media outlets are scrambling to distance themselves from Nevada rancher Clive Bundy today, following statements appearing in The New York Times where the 67-year-old Bundy wondered out loud if blacks were “better off under slavery” and opined that young black men are incarcerated in large numbers because “they never learned how to pick cotton.” While responses so far have been predictably condemnatory, many conservative commentators have gone farther, daring to ask if right-wing extremism is intricately linked to racism.
“This has happened before,” said “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough. “It happened when conservatives raced blindly to put their arms around George Zimmerman…They basically pick their friends based on who their ‘enemies’ are. In this case, a lot of people in conservative media have raced to this guy’s defense. They must be feeling very exposed this morning.”
Time’s Michael Crowley echoed Scarborough’s statements, saying, “Guys like [Bundy] and Ted Nugent are doing a favor to the left, a favor to Democrats. To the extent that there are interesting, intellectually credible strains of conservative thought about limiting government authority, people like this get associated with them, and make them look ridiculous.”
“Once, just for once, can we find a fringe figure who isn’t a mass murderer, racist, or religious fanatic?” a senior executive at Fox News complained. “Somewhere there has to be a strict constitutionalist who believes in family values and small government, who doesn’t simultaneously fear and minorities and gays. Am I really asking for all that much?” The executive went on to blame the system for vetting right-wing heroes, which he confessed hadn’t been updated since “the early ‘80s or so.”
“It’s just a checklist on a clipboard,” the executive admitted with a note of embarrassment in his voice. “Denies the legitimacy of federal government? Check. Loves guns? Check. Prays out loud? Check. We don’t have any boxes for ‘doesn’t hate black people’ or ‘doesn’t think AIDS is a Biblical plague’ or ‘doesn’t have a 14-year-old wife’, and frankly, we’ve gotten bit on that last one a few times too many.”
Nevertheless, the right-wing media marches on stoically, determined to advance their message with whatever spokespeople they have.
“It’s just devastating to learn that another patriot for the American way of life is actually just a racist,” said Steve Doocy on Thursday’s “Fox & Friends.” “I think I now know how Asians feel when one of their children turns into a C-student.”