Via the Corner. Is this a network-wide policy or is it just Maddow setting the rules for her own show? You’d think MSNBC executives might want a team huddle to decide before their 9 p.m. host implicitly pronounces everyone else on the payroll who uses the term “Redskins” guilty of “painfully racist” language. Turns out the YouKnowWhatsits play twice in primetime on sister network NBC this fall and I’m pretty sure “R-word” ain’t going to cut it in the booth. Time to boycott “Sunday Night Football”?
But never mind that. This is valuable as an illustration of what I wrote about at the end of Friday’s post, particularly Maddow’s roll call of lefty sites like Mother Jones and TNR who’ve suddenly decided after decades of usage that “Redskins” is no longer appropriate. Liberal media is having its own team huddle about the propriety of “Redskins” with an eye to manufacturing a new norm for liberals and Democrats. It’ll be fascinating to watch it enforced against unsuspecting pols like Obama, who’ll say something absentmindedly cheery in an interview about RGIII hopefully leading the Redskins to the Super Bowl this year and then be caught by surprise by the grumbling in otherwise favorable news outlets. He’ll learn his lesson; in a few years, Democratic politicians will train themselves to refer only to “Washington” when discussing the local franchise. And then, once Democratic unanimity is more or less achieved, Republicans who continue to use the term will be branded racist. The Overton window will move on this. The question is how long it’ll take, and whether too much grumbling at first will produce a backlash. Remember how the NYT under Howell Raines decided to take up the cause of admitting women members at Augusta? It did happen — but not until 10 years later, on Augusta’s terms, long after the fire the Times tried to set had burned out. I think that’s how the ‘Skins will handle it too. They won’t bow to political correctness under intense pressure, but down the road, after everyone’s chosen sides between “Redskins” and “R-words” and the issue’s quieted down, they’ll change the name.