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So It's the Media vs. Haley Barbour?

4 years ago
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By now you may have heard of the outrage spawned by a proposed Mississippi license plate that honors Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. (For those searching for a pop culture reference, he was Forrest Gump's namesake).

As Tom Diemer noted earlier, Forrest "is regarded by admirers as a military genius who left the Klan because of its violent ways," but "critics point out he was a Klan grand wizard, and during the Civil War he led a massacre of African-American Union troops in the 1864 Battle of Fort Pillow in Tennessee."

While the license plate controversy is certainly an interesting local story, I can't help thinking the national media narrative -- which has cast Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour front and center in the debate -- is a bit forced.

A few points may put this in perspective . . .

First, in order for this measure to pass, it will have to first be approved by the state Legislature -- including passage by the Democratic-majority State House.

As Barbour said Tuesday, "I know there's not a chance it'll become law."

What is more, the plate idea was proposed by private citizens for the state Legislature's approval. Barbour did not come up with the idea, nor does he have the authority to stop or expedite the measure until it reaches his desk -- which, by the way, will never happen.

As the Mason County Daily News reported, "The design featuring Forrest is being proposed for release in 2014. A vote by the Mississippi Legislature would take place in 2013."

Barbour's term ends in 2012.

As a self-described "fat redneck," Barbour certainly faces challenges as he contemplates a presidential run. What is more, he has made gaffes which have reinforced the negative stereotype about him.

Barbour's biggest problem in this instance seems to be that he refused to denounce Forrest. When asked by a reporter, Barbour said: "I don't go around denouncing people. That's not going to happen. I don't even denounce the news media."

This conveniently fueled media headlines such as: "Barbour Won't Denounce KKK Leader." These are the same manufactured news stories conservatives have become accustomed to. Here's an example: "Matt Lewis Won't Say if Sarah Palin is Qualified to be President."

The problem with media narratives is that once they develop, reporters tend to see everything through that prism. In this regard, Haley Barbour has a big obstacle to overcome. He will be dragged into every controversy that takes place in the next two years. Will Haley Barbour denounce the burning of Korans? Will Haley Barbour denounce . . . fill in the blank.

Regardless, unless I see more evidence of Barbour's involvement in this issue, I'm inclined to say, "That dog won't hunt."

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Rich Vail

Mr. Barbour is seen as a possible 2012 opponent of such he will be tarred and feathered by the national media in order to discredit any possible presidential candidacy he may have.

This sort of thing will occur against any one who contemplates or has a possibility of running against Obama. The national media is so closely tied to Mr. Obama's success that they will do anything and everything to smear any opponent that will face him next year.

February 17 2011 at 6:31 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

It is not only the media and Haley Barbour it is the media and all Republicans. But the Republicana have found new friends on the internet and on talk radio. The media is still very powerful but only in the eyes of people too lazy or unconcerned to learn the truth.

February 16 2011 at 5:16 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Well, I'll be darned. I agree with you, Mr. Lewis, as regards this issue and the good Governor. Of course, the media spins issue from both sides and the right is as guilty as the left, generally.

February 16 2011 at 5:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think that themedia needs to let Mr Barbour run on the issues and find out where he stands. I think that he has some good ideas. Problem is that the Left media won't look past the "souithern stigma." A Southern man can't get an even break.

February 16 2011 at 3:22 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

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