Cable news has had a feast worthy of kings this week, with not just the final debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to rave over, but bold statements from a series of conservative pundits and politicians, as well. There was Ann Coulter's double "retard" tweet, Richard Mourdock's rape "gift from God" statement, and Donald Trump's "bombshell" announcement; now, Sarah Palin has dropped another gift in the TV talkers' laps.
The former GOP vice presidential nominee posted a statement on Facebook earlier this week, accusing Obama of performing a "shuck and jive shtick" to avoid answering questions on the attacks on the US embassy in Benghazi. Immediately, she was accused of making a racial slur; MSNBC host Chris Matthews hosted a roundtable discussion about the comment on his show Wednesday night.
"I think this is rank racism,” commentator and Bloomberg journalist Jonathan Alter said on Hardball. "These are racist tropes, and we need to call them what they are."
Clarence Page, of the Chicago Tribune, explained, saying, “For knowledgeable people, it has roots back in the plantation days, actually, when slaves doing the shucking of the corn would jive each other around just to pass the time."
Others on the panel concurred, with Matthews adding, "Anybody out there, by the way, who thinks we’re seeing things, it’s over and over again. And if you say we’re seeing things, you’re dead wrong and you’re dangerous."
Palin responded with a fierce followup Facebook post, saying that her use of the term was in no way racial.
"I’ve been known to use the phrase most often when chastising my daughter Piper to stop procrastinating and do her homework," Palin wrote. "As she is part Yup’ik Eskimo, I’m not sure if this term would be deemed offensive when it’s directed at her or if it would be considered benign as in the case of Chris Matthews’ use of it in reference to Rachel Maddow. Just to be careful, from now on I’ll avoid using it with Piper, and I would appreciate it if the media refrained from using words and phrases like igloo, Eskimo Pie, and 'when hell freezes over,' as they might be considered offensive by my extended Alaska Native family."
She also referenced a speech made by now-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2008, in which he used the term, though he was not specifically targeting Obama with the words.