Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC’s All In, has a favorite tactic–though not an original one: connecting today’s Republicans with the racist Democrats of the old South. In June, he rewrote history by casting George Wallace as a Republican–an error for which, to his credit, he later apologized. On Wednesday, he appeared to use a more subtle tactic to connect the Tea Party’s Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to the Ku Klux Klan.
In a segment on possible Tea Party contenders for the Republican Party’s nomination in the 2016 presidential race, Hayes used a graphic (above) that portrayed Cruz, Paul, and Rubio as kings in a deck of cards–and that, rather conveniently, spelled out the initials “K K K.” (Hayes did not say the word “kings” during the segment.)
The use of KKK imagery–historically associated with Democrats, not Republicans–to describe the Tea Party would not be unique to Hayes. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) recently used a burning cross to provide the “T” in “Tea Party” in a fundraising email. Hayes’s “dog whistle” was more clever, but–if intentional–no less offensive.
There is a hazard, of course, in taking offense too quickly at bad jokes, and there is always the possibility that Hayes was unaware of the graphic, or even that the KKK reference was entirely coincidental. However, given Hayes’s past record, and the constant obsession of fellow MSNBC anchors with making false accusations of racism against the Tea Party and the Republican Party, Hayes has arguably exhausted the benefit of the doubt.