Joe Lieberman Blackfaced, Jane Hamsher Redfaced

Jane Hamsher Joe Lieberman Blackface Photo A rather innocuous HuffPo post by Jane Hamsher yesterday, entitled “On the Ground with Lamont/Lieberman,” was illustrated with a PhotoShopped image of Joe Lieberman and Bill Clinton depicted at right.

Michelle Malkin and a slew of conservative bloggers jumped on it yesterday and the image was quickly and quietly removed. Oddly, the bottom of the post still says “(Graphic by DarkBlack)” even though there is no graphic. Whether DarkBlack specializes in putting blackface on photographs is unclear at this writing.

This is the second major incident involving Democrats putting blackface on opposition candidates as part of a campaign. The first time was Maryland lieutenant governor/U.S. Senate candidate Michael Steele. It was especially bizarre in Steele’s case, given that Steele is already black.

Hamsher has issued a typical Hollywood non-apology apology: “I sincerely apologize to anyone who was genuinely offended by the choice of images accompanying my blog post today on the Huffington Post. It’s also important to note that I do not, nor have I ever worked for Ned Lamont’s campaign. However, at their request, I removed the image earlier today.” So, she doesn’t think she’s actually done anything wrong here but, hey, if you’re offended–but only sincerely offended, not just somewhat offended–she’s sorry you’re so stupid as to be offended.

As to her non-connection to Lamont’s campaign, that is, quite frankly, a lie. Dan Balz points out in today’s WaPo, “She is not on the campaign staff but has actively promoted Lamont’s candidacy and helped raise money for him through her blog.” Later in the piece, Lieberman spokesman Dan Gerstein notes that, “She travels with him, she’s raised money for them and has become the primary mouthpiece for him in the blogosphere.” But even that substantially downplays Hamscher’s role in the campaign. She has, for example, produced a television commercial for Lamont. That featured Lamont. Tom Maguire has the details. View it on Flickr (via Malkin).

The truly bizarre thing about all this is that nothing in the blog post in question even remotely dealt with racial issues. In the non-apology apology, she explains,

For weeks, Senator Lieberman has attempted to woo African Americans by pretending to be someone he clearly is not. Meanwhile, his campaign has liberally distributed race-baiting fliers that have the “paid for by” Joe’s campaign disclaimer at the bottom, lying to the press about their intended recipients.

But the “race baiting” is the kind of stuff that white politicians of a certain age always use when courting blacks, noting that they marched with Dr. King and the like. The message, “I’ve always been on your side” is not “race baiting,” it’s pandering. The flip side of the flier, meanwhile, notes that Lamont resigned from a (mostly?) white country club once he decided to run for the Senate and a quote of Lamont saying “I didn’t pay much attention to that before the race began, to tell the truth.”

Does that merit putting Lieberman in blackface? Certainly, a Republican general election campaign would be excoriated for using it against a Democrat. As political satire, it’s incredibly risky, period. But to use it in the context of a blog post that has nothing to do with the flier, or race relations in general, is just inexplicable. As AllahPundit puts it,

Incidentally, what message, do you suppose, was she trying to convey with this bit of ’shoppery? Gilliard’s photoshop of Michael Steele was a comment on how conservatives supposedly see blacks, with the blackface a grotesque symbol of Steele’s perceived willingness to play to racial stereotypes. Hamsher’s image presumably is a comment on Lieberman being a closet Republican who’s posing as a Democrat, her symbol for which is … minstrel make-up?

John Hawkins adds,

Who writes a post like that and then goes, “You know, what would really make this post hum? A picture of Joe Lieberman in blackface for no reason whatsoever. After all, there’s nothing more hilarious than a Jew in blackface!”

In terms of the Lamont campaign, Kevin Ayward makes the most salient point:

Coziness with bloggers like Hamsher (and several million of his own dollars) helped propel Lamont from nowhere into a tight race for the Democratic nomination U.S Senator, but that coziness comes with a price. When one of their biggest boosters has a Kos-style “Screw ‘Em” moment like this, they have little choice but to distance themselves; potentially alienating their biggest boosters…

Guerrilla campaigning has its costs. Of course, without the netroots, Lamont would have been eliminated from the race months ago. That he’s in position to topple Lieberman Tuesday is simply stunning. If this incident caused a backlash and derailed his campaign, it would be positively Shakespearean.

Update (Steve Verdon): The Commissar points to this rather disturbing tendency to call Senator Lieberman’s volunteers the “LieberYouth”. Apparently the following blogs have all used this terms,

Couldn’t be any relation could it? Naw that would be downright despicable.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jon Swift says:

    some bloggers succumb, and end up red-faced. Despite this handy chart detailing when you should and should not use blackface on your blog, Conservatives have been especially reluctant to use blackface, fearing that it might reinforce nasty, untrue

  2. s installment may have crossed a line of good taste. I know many of you will disagree with me, but you decide. Many of you will recall when we conservatives came down hard on Jane Hamsher of Firedog Lake for her photoshopped picture of Joe Lieberman in minstrel make up. It is an unnecessary, hurtful reminder of days past when black people were thought not good enough to share the stage with white people. And to make matters worse, the Minstrel Show itself portrayed blacks in the

  3. challenged Joe Lieberman for his Connecticut Senate seat, Jane Hamsher joined the attack on Lieberman for his position in favor of the liberation of Iraq. That position made him worse than a Republican, actually and caused dear sweet Jane to post a picture of Joe in blackface. She can do that because she wears the armor of Unquestionable Goodness. “I sincerely apologize to anyone who was genuinely offended by the choice of images accompanying my blog post today on the Huffington Post. It’s also important to note that I

  4. t get it, myself…Edwards has to know that any advantage in the primaries he thinks he’ll garner from being the netroots favorite will be offset by opening himself up to being tarred with netroots vitriol in the general. Who knows, perhaps Edwards’ internal numbers are telling him something to the effect that a big netroots push is the only thing that might save him from Obamessiah. Technorati Tags:

  5. opinions and they want to interact online with others who are like minded. If there were a great gaping demand for a moderate site, Joe Gandelman would be a rich man. Jane represents much of what’s wrong with the Kos-types. Namely, an incredible lack of judgment married to unending rage that doesn’t care who it insults.

  6. go into a Dunkin’ Donuts or a 7-Eleven unless you have a slight Indian accent.” But, this is okay because he went on CNN or MSNBC, and the reporter asked him “Will you clarify your comments?”… he did, and all is forgiven, right? Oh yeah, and here’s Joe Lieberman, courtesy of a liberal on The Huffington Post (a very liberal website)… remember, Lieberman supports our troops and war. But its not racist, its all meant in fun. Oh yeah, lest we forget John Kerry, who served in Vietnam…

  7. PostWatch says:

    attached to floozies. Those good ol’ boys are simultaneously more reactionary and broad-minded than I thought. I criticize people for reading minds but it sure does seem like there’s a lot of projection going on. The left is the go-to guy if you’re in the market for blackface, or antisemitism, or outing gays and, perhaps this is just a one-off deal, announcing that Republicans don’t love God. Nice party you got there. As for Mr. Kurtz, even nice guys are better off when they know what decade it is.

  8. used the n-word twice in a 2001 TV interview and didn’t squeal much at all when California Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante dropped the n-bomb during a speech in 2001. They’re the same folks who tolerate blackface Photoshops of Joe Lieberman and thick-lipped, offensive cartoons of Condi Rice. The Washington Post has printed 168 references to Allen’s questionably racial “macaca” incident, and devoted but one reference to the fact that Webb used the word

  9. s invested in Wal-Mart, but denounces it publically. He claimed to not have a clue about blogs when the truth was Jane Hamsher (blogstress of Firedoglake, think Daily Kos without the intellect), she of the blackface Lieberman “joke,” was an integral part of his online strategy and traveled with him daily. Those two things showed a lack of character, and I pointed it out. Called him a liar. Guess I was right. Anyway, the examples:

  10. – In Love with Keith Olberman and his anti-Bush lovefest every night. What are his ratings again?Jane & Christy at FDL – When they’re not photoshopping their political opponents (both within and outside of the Democratic party) into blackface, they’re keepin’ hope alive on the Wilson/Plame Fitzmas party. Reality has no impact on these gals! (Note – When the NY Times is too conservative for you, you’re unhinged)etcBack to the event: The lunch was only scheduled to go for an hour and he

  11. “netroots” online community that makes up the core of the antiwar left didn’t confine itself to rational debate about Lieberman’s positions; it spawned anti-Semitic rants about the senator’s motives, it included death threats, it dragged in racial slurs via PhotoShop. So much for moderation. While there’s a time for taking a stand and making more than a dime’s worth of difference between Republican and Democrat, it would be nice if both sides were at least on speaking terms. If the Connecticut

  12. by Russell Shaw, over at the Hufffington Post Blog. I’m not going to quote this tripe, because just mentioning it and giving it a link is more than it deserves. But the left – especially the Huffington Left is known for this kind of “sensational and offensive blogging”, which is used simply to rile up people and get hits. I’m not riled up any more than I would be at a rabid dog foaming at the mouth. This just shows the true nature of some on the left – not all – but a large

  13. “This gives the lie to the idea that this is not an effort to purge different ideas from the party,” said Lieberman spokesman Dan Gerstein, who referred to the activists as Lamont surrogates. Lamont, obviously, can’t be responsible for the actions of all of his supporters. But talk about off-message… We’re still waiting for a comment from his campaign. — Jason Horowitz UPDATE: The Lieberman campaign has just released a statement on this (after the jump), while Lamontblog has a

  14. Latino voters. The Republican National Hispanic Assembly and Latino groups also criticized the ad. Brillant, the Donks have been losing the more and more of the Hispanic vote over the last two elections, and now they go and produce an ad like that. I bet Jane Hamsher came up with that idea! Mr Minority

  15. NY Daily News. Round-Up (Blogs): The Corner (NRO), QandO,, Hot Air, Pajamas Media, Sister Toldjah, Blogometer (NJ), Power Line, Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler, Riehl World View, Cold Fury, Outside The Beltway, The RCP Blog, Flopping Aces, All Things Beautiful, The American Thinker, Ace of Spades HQ, RedState, Blue Crab Boulevard, IMAO, Liberty and Justice, Instapundit, Wizbang, Ankle Biting Pundits, Ex-Donkey Blog

  16. all over the map. further his memory on key al qaeda events approaches the delusional. so his flip-flop on joe lieberman after campaigning for him only a few weeks ago (the appearance which prompted the classy blackface by a lamont blogging buddy) should surprise no one

  17. Daily Summary…

    NEWS: – U.S. prepares for showdown in Cuba – Marine sues congressman for defamation – Mt. Soledad Cross’s Victory in Congress Won’t End Court Battles – Senate votes to fund the fence – Bush says farewell to old White House……

  18. Anderson says:

    Pretty freakin’ tasteless. Hamsher should apologize, tho I won’t hold my breath.

    Lamont would be well advised to hold a press conference, today, where he holds up the picture and declares that he would rather lose the primary than win with support like that. Sistah Souljah, etc.

  19. MT says:

    Maybe I missed it above, but today’s Vent is on the subject if anyone is interested.

  20. Anderson says:

    Well, Hamsher did indeed apologize, kind of. I stand corrected. Lamont still needs to seize the moment, however.

  21. Bithead says:


    I wonder what Hamsher had to say about Mel Gibson?

  22. Bithead says:

    As a seperate issue, interesting that the other person in the picture was Bill Clinton, the self proclaimed first Black President in American history.

  23. Old War Dogs says:

    Lamont does a Clinton…

    Lamont does a ClintonBruce Kesler I’m not a Connecticut resident, registered as a Democrat, nor a supporter of many of Senator Lieberman’s positions. But, I do admire anyone who has integrity in their behavior. Lieberman has long met that key…

  24. Ned Lamont’s Stroker Ace moment…

    Ever seen the movie Stroker Ace? Ok, probably not unless you’re from North Carolina (it was filmed right here in Charlotte at Charlotte Motor Speedway – before they started selling Speedway name sponsorships – in 1982/83) but in the movie there …

  25. […] Outside The Beltway […]

  26. About that graphic……

    Blogger Jane Hamsher posted a graphic today that probably was not in the best of taste (in the p-c world in which we live today). The graphic has been removed and she has apologized (here and here).
    The graphic in question can no longer be viewed on an…

  27. Iowa Voice says:

    Ned Lamont And The Left Wing Nutjobs…

    Ned Lamont claims “he doesn’t know anything about blogs.” Michelle asks “really?” Hot Air has the gist of what this is all about, but it’s a perfect case of how the nutroots is being played by the Lamont campaign…and vice versa.

    In related…

  28. Anderson says:

    the self proclaimed first Black President

    Wait, so Toni Morrison and Bill Clinton are the same person?

    I knew I’d never seen them in the same room together. Makes the whole Monica thing just that much kinkier.

  29. Pug says:

    Wait, so Toni Morrison and Bill Clinton are the same person?

    No. No. Toni Morrison self-proclaimed Bill Clinton as the first black president. What’s wrong with that?

  30. slickdpdx says:

    Excellent post title.

  31. Bumping Uglies and Political Mudslinging: CT Style…

    You want to bump into the ugly side of politics? Want to see political mudslinging of the worst kind? Just take a gander at the Ned Lamont campaign, its close advisors, and the folks who are supporting him in his primary run against Democrat party in…..