In a recent profile in the Weekly Standard, Mississippi Gov. Harley Barbour (R) heaped praise on the white supremacist Citizens Councils for its role in barring KKK activity in his hometown of Yazoo City. After significant criticism, Barbour later stated that "the 'Citizens Council,' is totally indefensible, as is segregation."
However, following the Weekly Standard piece, right-wing media rushed to Barbour's defense, dismissing his remarks as innocent nostalgia and decrying a left-wing smear campaign. For instance, Hot Air's AllahPundit asserted that "maybe [Barbour] was simply naïve about" the Citizens Councils' purpose.
In addition, linking to a National Review Online post defending Barbour, Fox Nation posted the headline "Haley Barbour Fends off Left-Wing Racial Smears with Ease."
Other right-wing media initially defended Barbour's praise for Citizens Councils but revised and extended their comments in light of a 1982 New York Times article revealing a remark Barbour made warning an aide that he might be "reincarnated as a watermelon and placed at the mercy of blacks."
NRO's Jim Geraghty said yesterday that Barbour simply remembered his hometown through "rose-colored glasses," adding, "Is Haley Barbour to be smeared as a racist, once the single most damaging accusation in our society, over this?" Earlier today, however, Geraghty retreated from his defense of Barbour, stating that "even if a racially insensitive remark is said to rebuke another's racially insensitive remark, with enough examples, the benefit of the doubt is eviscerated."
Similarly, after initially declaring that giving Democrats a pass while "smearing Republicans who only had tangential involvement" in segregation "is simply unacceptable," Ace of Spades blogger Drew M. stated, "it's simply bad politics to run out candidates that are less likely to win just to prove a point. And if the evidence is that they are racists, throwing them under the bus is just the right thing to do regardless of what Democrats get away with."