On the October 26 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan argued "I don't take" a Republican National Committee (RNC) ad against Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Harold Ford, Jr. "as racist at all," because "Harold Ford is a guy that likes Playboy bunnies. Almost all of them are white." As Media Matters for America has noted, the ad, which was released October 20, features a scantily clad white woman posing as someone who "met" Ford "at the Playboy party" who, looks into the camera, purporting to address Ford, an African-American, asking him to "call" her. As the Los Angeles Times noted, "Critics said the ad ... plays on fears of interracial relationships to scare some white voters in rural Tennessee." Former Republican senator and Secretary of Defense William Cohen, on the October 23 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, said the ad made "a very serious appeal to a racist sentiment," and NAACP Washington Bureau chairman Hilary O. Shelton also has denounced the advertisement.
[Ford] was at an event where scantily-clad women were featured attractions. How can a Democrat, a member of a political party that caters to feminists, defend that? Would it have been accurate to depict the Playboy-type model in the ad as black? Anybody who takes a passing glance at Playboy knows that the vast majority of the "models"-- the Playmates or Playboy Bunnies -- are white. By chance, I was flipping through my cable channels the other night and came upon a show on the E! channel titled "The Girls Next Door," featuring Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and his current crop of Playboy "girlfriends." All of his girlfriends are white. A quick visit to the Playboy website finds no black models at all.
So an ad featuring a white and blonde Playboy-like floozy, saying, "I met Harold at the Playboy party," is quite accurate, regardless of whether Ford is black or white.
From the October 26 edition of MSNBC's Scarborough Country, which also featured The New Republic senior editor Michael Crowley:
CROWLEY: And whether or not you think it's a racial ad, a racist ad, I think it goes to his character in just a kind of irrelevant, sleazy way.
BUCHANAN: You know, Joe --
CROWLEY: And I think it's a desperate attempt to avoid --
BUCHANAN: Joe --
CROWLEY: -- talking about the Iraq war.
BUCHANAN: Joe, let me say this. I -- I agree with Michael here. I don't take this as racist. Look, the Terrell Owens thing -- you remember that? You had the girl stripping right there in the locker room in the Super Bowl ad for some beer or something, or whatever it was. But look, I don't take this as racist at all. I think Michael is right. This is an attack on character. Harold Ford is a guy that likes Playboy bunnies. Almost all of them are white. He takes money from porn kings. You know, he's gonna -- he's against repealing the death tax. And it causes us all to start talking about this. We've been showing this ad. You read -- keep watching the whole ad. And Harold Ford is arguing about the ad. He's not gaining ground with that. And I think [Bob] Corker [Ford's Republican opponent] has cut himself loose from this thing and he's moving on. So I think this might --
JOE SCARBOROUGH (host): Well, you know, Pat --
BUCHANAN: I think it's obviously a mixed bag, but it could -- go ahead.