The dishonesty of Howie Carr

Howie Carr is a conservative talk show host out of Boston. He’s very entertaining and I enjoy listening to him on my way home from work, but he has a tendency to engage in some pretty overt dishonesty. For instance, he was discussing a comment made by a Democratic leader about South Carolina governor Nikki Haley. First, here’s the story:

While he was chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, Dick Harpootlian was known for his “pithy and pungent comments.” Now, he’s trying to apologize and clarify such a remark he made last week about GOP Gov. Nikki Haley.

Harpootlian said he hoped South Carolina voters next year send “Nikki Haley back to wherever the hell she came from” — a comment that many Republicans believed was racist because of Haley’s Indian heritage. Haley, South Carolina’s first female and minority governor, is up for re-election in 2014.

I can see how people would make such an interpretation, but I’m not really buying it. Haley is from South Carolina, not India. Harpootlian clarified:

“I’m the grandson of immigrants. She’s not from India,” Harpootlian said Tuesday on MSNBC. “She’s from Bamberg, South Carolina, where she was an accountant in her parents’ clothing store called Exotica. All I’m suggesting is she needs to go back to being an accountant in a dress store rather than being this fraud of a governor that we have.”

This is where my beef with Howie Carr comes in. In response to the above quote, Carr asked “What’s wrong with being an accountant? Why does this guy have a problem with people who work in the dreaded private sector?” (Paraphrased.) I think the issue here is obvious: Harpootlian didn’t say anything about there being anything wrong with accounting. All he said was that he wants to send Haley back to what she did prior to becoming governor. For some context, consider the 2004 VP debates. Joe Lieberman light-heartily said something to the effect of his wife sometimes wishing he was back in the private sector. Dickface Cheney responded with a zinger about hoping to help Lieberman get there. Now, imagine someone like Howie Carr hearing this. Is there a chance he would question why Cheney thought there was something wrong with the private sector? Would he question why Cheney found Lieberman’s previous occupation problematic? I doubt it.

Of course, the reason Carr wouldn’t question Cheney is obvious. Aside from the political bias of it, he believes Cheney doesn’t have a history of undermining the private sector, so he’s going to give him the benefit of any doubt. Interestingly, I think this point can be enlightening when we consider why people tend to give Harpootlian the benefit of the doubt: modern Democrats don’t have a history of saying racist things and undermining the social and economic status of minorities. Republicans, on the other hand, do. I mean, who is going to assume the best of intentions of a party that made early voting illegal on the specific Sunday (in Florida) when black churches bus voters to the polls? History matters here.

(I realize the first line of attack from most Republicans will be to point out that Democrats prior to and around the middle of the 20th century tended to be the overwhelmingly racist party. This, like Carr, is pretty dishonest. Those Democrats were largely conservatives who later became Republicans as how we defined the major parties evolved.)

You aren’t helping women, Gov. Haley

Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina recently went on a European spending spree at the expense of taxpayers. Reporter Renee Dudley covered the story:

Gov. Nikki Haley’s weeklong trip to Europe in June in search of “jobs, jobs, jobs” cost South Carolinians more than $127,000. But the governor and her entourage of more than two dozen returned without any finished deals to bring new employers to the Palmetto State.

Haley, who captured the governor’s office preaching fiscal restraint, spent the cash so she, her husband and the rest of the state’s contingent could stay in five-star hotels; sip cocktails at the Paris Ritz; dine on what an invitation touted as “delicious French cuisine” at a swanky rooftop restaurant; and rub elbows with the U.S. Ambassador to France at his official residence near the French presidential palace.

The South Carolina group also threw a soiree at the Hotel de Talleyrand, a historic Parisian townhouse where they feted foreign employers in hopes they’d set up shop in South Carolina. The Department of Commerce billed the $25,000 event as a “networking opportunity for members of the South Carolina delegation.”

“It was a great party,” Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt said in an interview last week.

In this investigative piece, Dudley raises a number of concerns that ought to interest South Carolina. She uses several sources and attempted to contact the governor’s office for comment. It was a professionally done story. Unfortunately, since it strikes at the heart of the governor’s claims to fiscal conservatism, Haley had this to say:

And all I will tell you is: God bless that little girl at The Post and Courier. I mean her job is to try and create conflict. My job is to create jobs. In the end I’m going to have jobs to show for it,” Haley said on “The Laura Ingraham Show.

First, something which is going to fly under the radar and be ignored for the bigger and more obvious story: Even if Dudley’s job is to create conflict – and it isn’t – then she did so. She showed that the interests of Haley do not jive with the interests of South Carolina taxpayers. So when Haley implies that at the end of the day she’s going to have something to show for her efforts and Dudley isn’t, she’s wrong. But of course, the bigger story here is the “little girl” comment. It’s a stupid and demeaning statement. Naturally a number of people want Haley to apologize. And she did. Sort of:

The story painted a grossly inaccurate picture and was unprofessionally done, but my ‘little girl’ comment was inappropriate and I regret that,” Haley said. “Everyone can have a bad day. I’ll forgive her bad story, if she’ll forgive my poor choice of words.

What a dick.

As I said earlier, Dudley’s piece meets journalistic standards. Haley’s people had an opportunity to rebuke the story. They failed. The only unprofessional thing here is Haley’s childish back-handed apology.

I know it’s a popular thing for people to assume only white men can be sexist and/or racist, but that clearly is not the case. (See this video from Texas for a bit of black-to-white racism.) Haley has given ample evidence against that. (And, hey, who wants to bet PZ isn’t going to latch onto this story?) She ought to join everyone else at the adult table, apologize, and then stop using ad hom fallacies as a response to legitimate concerns.