Ad Mocking Harold Ford "A Racist Appeal to Tennessee Voters"

"The ad, resonating with the miscegenation taboos of Old South politics, may or may not be the nadir in the low-blow salvos now assailing the nation."

The ad mocking Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. may be fading from the airwaves, but not in the pages of the New York Times, which is still pushing the "racism" angle, as it does in Anne Kornblut and Jim Rutenberg Friday story,"Federal Rules Help Shield Creators of Political Advertisements."

"When an advertisement mocking Representative Harold E. Ford Jr. set off controversy in the Tennessee Senate race last week, a question quickly arose: Who was behind the provocative and, critics said, racially loaded television spot?"

It turns out to be Scott Howell, with "his history of bare-knuckled tactics" and, naturally, a "close relationship" to Karl Rove, which is enough to be the epitome of evil in liberal circles.

The story does eventually get into Democratic controversies, though there are "none as prominent as the controversy in Tennessee." Of course, the media has a big vote in deciding what's "prominent" and what's not.

Friday's editorial, "Compounding a Political Outrage," bluntly calls the ad racist: "The sleazy way in which campaigns and the political parties use loopholes in the campaign finance laws to evade responsibility for their attack ads is on full display in the Tennessee Senate race. Slick as a leer, pernicious as a virus, a campaign commercial transparently honed as a racist appeal to Tennessee voters has remained on the air, despite assurances from Republican sponsors that it was pulled down.

"The ad is directed at Representative Harold Ford Jr., the Democratic candidate for the Senate, who is African-American. It includes a bare-shouldered white woman claiming to have met the candidate at a Playboy party and signing off with a close-up, whispered come-on: 'Harold, call me.'"

While attacking three to four seconds of the humorous ad, the Times apparently assumes that Tennessee voters have the same racial attitudes as they did in the 50s and 60s (when Democrats controlled the region's politics): "The ad, resonating with the miscegenation taboos of Old South politics, may or may not be the nadir in the low-blow salvos now assailing the nation. But it takes the statuette for political hypocrisy as G.O.P. leaders insist they were hobbled by campaign law from cutting off what is clearly their own handiwork. 'We didn't have anything to do with creating it,' insisted Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the Republican National Committee."

For good measure, there's a perfectly pointless sidebar by Ian Austen referencing another part of the ad, in which an actor doing a humorous impression of a Ford supporter says "Canada can take care of North Korea. They're not busy," which some humor-impaired Canadians (and Times assignment editors) take as some kind of attack on Canada, judging by the headline: "Republican Attack Ad Offends Canada."