Sabato Recants Allen Slur Story

Larry Sabato, the quintessential academic media whore, now says he never heard George Allen use racial slurs, a day after strongly implying that he had on “Hardball” with Chris Matthews.

“I’m going to stay with what I know is the case. And the fact is, he did use the n-word, whether he’s denying it now or not. He did use it.”

Here’s the video:


Sabato now says, “I didn’t personally hear GFA (Allen’s initials) say the n-word. My conclusion is based on the very credible testimony I have heard for weeks, mainly from people I personally know and knew in the ’70s.”

When someone says of someone they were personally acquainted that they “know” something to be a “fact,” the clear presumption is that they witnessed it personally. Sabato should have merely told Matthews that he had numerous second-hand accounts.

My strong guess–as someone who was just starting grade school at the time, years away from meeting George Allen–is that the man did in fact use the word “nigger” on numerous occasions in the early 1970s. To have done so would have been quite expected of someone in his circumstances during that era. But neither Larry Sabato nor I know for sure.

UPDATE: MetaDC thinks my penultimate sentence “weird” and wonders,

Seriously, what circumstances justify the well-educated Californian’s frequent use of a word considered among the worst of obscenities? I’d love to hear a compelling argument for “nigger” having been an acceptable term at a major university as late as the 1970’s.

My guess is the author is very young. For one thing, an undergraduate jock is hardly someone I would describe as “well educated.” For another, Allen was at UVA from 1971-1974, a scant few years after the passage of the cornerstone civil rights legislation of the mid-1960s. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated three years before Allen matriculated. There was much to-do over busing inner city kids to the suburbs to integrate the schools. George Wallace was in his second and third terms as governor of Alabama. That the word “nigger” was still in use at the University of Virginia should hardly be surprising.

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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.

Comments

  1. Outside Beltway – NOTE: My spam filter automatically deletes any TrackBacks that do not actually link and refer to this post. Those doing it manually should ensure they have linked the post before sending the TrackBack ping. Sabato Recants Allen Slur Story Outside Beltway – NOTE: My spam filter automatically deletes any TrackBacks that do not actually link and refer to this post. Those doing it manually should ensure they have linked the post before sending the TrackBack ping.

  2. As you say, we don’t know about Allen. But we do know that Mr. Sabato has lowered himself to using what are effectively National Enquirer type tactics of repeating hearsay as fact. No amount of retractions now will offset the damage he has done — and he knows it.

    Mr. Sabato and his reputation as an honest broker has dropped considerably in my view.

  3. SoloD says:

    Sabato is however doing a wonderful job at keeping the story alive.

  4. MrGone says:

    Allen is an idiot for claiming to have never said it. I think it shows a lot about his character that he fervently denies while Webb says he’s said it.

  5. I remember one of the lectures on hear-say. The professor first asked how many people believe that know that Hawaii exists. Every one raised their hands (though some hands were slower than others as they tried to parse what was the hidden meaning). She then asked how many people had been to Hawaii, to which about a half dozen hands were raised. To the rest she proceeded to show that every proof they had about the existence of Hawaii was based on hear-say. Picture you had seen were identified as Hawaii based on what someone else wrote or said about the pictures. The point was that hear-say could be true and extremely reliable, but that with a few exceptions, hear-say was not admissible into court. The proper way to bring it into evidence was to go down the chain of hear-say to find someone with direct knowledge to testify.

    A TV show is not a court, but a supposedly independent political pundit should try to be clear and accurate about what he says. If he said “Mr. Jones, whom I have known for over 30 years, has told me…”, then the logical next question would have been to follow the chain to Mr. Jones and ask him what he knows. It may turn out Mr. Jones is a highly credible source. We may find out that Mr. Jones found out about Allen’s utterances from spanky, his invisible friend.

    The liberals who complain about the swift boat vets should at least recognized that they were speaking, in general, from their personal remembrances. The fact that the remembrances were 30 to 40 years old should certainly be weighed, but it is not hear say. The speaker could be tested for partisanship as an indication of their potential motives to lie. For the liberals who deride the swift boat testimony, why would they be so much happier to accept the lest reliable 30-year old testimony?

  6. MetaDC says:

    Covering For Allen…

    James Joyner says something a little weird:My strong guess—as someone who was just starting grade school at the time, years away from meeting George Allen—is that the man did in fact use the word “nigger” on numerous occasions in the……

  7. Steve Verdon says:

    I remember one of the lectures on hear-say. The professor first asked how many people believe that know that Hawaii exists. Every one raised their hands (though some hands were slower than others as they tried to parse what was the hidden meaning). She then asked how many people had been to Hawaii, to which about a half dozen hands were raised. To the rest she proceeded to show that every proof they had about the existence of Hawaii was based on hear-say. Picture you had seen were identified as Hawaii based on what someone else wrote or said about the pictures. The point was that hear-say could be true and extremely reliable, but that with a few exceptions, hear-say was not admissible into court. The proper way to bring it into evidence was to go down the chain of hear-say to find someone with direct knowledge to testify.

    I always new Bill Clinton didn’t exist…or George W. Bush for that matter.

  8. SoloD says:

    YAJ,

    But Sabato is hardly alone. The people who are accusing Allen are quickly piling up — and they have first hand knowledge.

    The Swift Vet comparison is close, except of course, that John Kerry was awarded the Bronze Star (I think)by the US military — I doubt that Allen has any NAACP awards hanging in his house. (Or maybe he does next to the noose.)

  9. George Allen, James Webb and the “N” word…

    The Shoe is on the other foot now in the “gotcha” game in Virginia…One of Virginia’s best-known political analysts said he had never personally heard Sen. George Allen (news, bio, voting record) use racial epithets, despite saying on television a….

  10. SoloD,

    But at least one of those “eyewitnesses” has had part of his story disproved. He claimed that the nickname “Wizard” was awarded him by Allen in reference to his name matching a KKK wizard. Then it turns out others come forward to point out that the nickname was hung on him before Allen got to school and was for his ability to catch footballs. Could he have misremembered the wizard, but remember the other utterances. Sure, but it should at least bring a grain of salt to the discussions.

    As to the swift boat comparison, I hope you realize that there were multiple issues raised, not just one.

    I also note that you aren’t touching Webb’s own admission against interest.

    Steve,

    Again, the issue is not that hearsay can’t be true. Just that going back to the original source allows for a better chance for testing for its truth. I suspect that if we trace your hearsay evidence for the existence of Bubba or Dubbya, we could find an eyewitness we could cross examine to determine the truth of their existence.

  11. Speaking only for myself, I was referencing Mr. Sabato’s clear recitation of this matter as fact, when he later acknowledged it was only hearsay. It is difficult for me to imagine that someone as astute as Mr. Sabato didn’t know exactly what he was doing.

  12. jpe says:

    The point was that hear-say could be true and extremely reliable, but that with a few exceptions, hear-say was not admissible into court.

    What would happen is that you’d call a ton of experts (cartograhers, I suppose), all of whom would testify to the existence of Hawaii; that would all be admissible, and Hawaai’s existence would be affirmed by the jury. Further, hearsay regarding Allen’s alleged use of “nigger” would be admissible: it’s an admission against interest.

  13. James Joyner says:

    jpe: I’m not a lawyer but don’t think “admission against interest” is an exception against the hearsay rule. Someone could testify that they heard Allen use the word “nigger” but a judge would not allow someone to testify that someone told him that Allen used the word.

  14. jpe says:

    You got it, Mr. Joyner. I spaced on that.

  15. Christopher says:

    Sabato: typical liberal. ’nuff said.

  16. cian says:

    Did Allen or didn’t he use the ‘N’ word? Hard to say, but here’s something his supporters can all be proud of- he’s over at the Value Voters Summit where speaker after speaker are attacking gay people using words like ‘faggot’, ‘anti-Christs’ and ‘Satan’. And guess what, he doesn’t seem too bothered.

    Do the research- the language being used at this poison-fest is frighteningly similar to that used by the Nazis to describe the Jews prior to and just after they took control, and Allen, along with the President’s press secretary and attorney general, is making an appearance!

  17. McGehee says:

    But of course there’s nothing at all poisonous about continually and constantly equating Republicans with Nazis.

  18. cian says:

    McGehee,

    Fair point, if I had been describing republicans as Nazis, which I didn’t. I was likening the language being used by those specifying at the Values Voters Summit to the language used by Nazis to describe the Jews prior to the ‘hard work’ of exterminating them. I urge you to read some of the transcripts from both periods (easily googled if you’re interested). I think you too will be shocked by the similarities, and further shocked that leading members of the Republican party are happy to attend.

  19. MetaDC says:

    Responding To James Joyner…

    James Joyner is courteous enough to respond to my post yesterday in which I questioned his suggestion that it was acceptable for George Allen to use “the n-word” when he was in college:My guess is the author is very young…….

  20. Tim Webster says:

    I am just a bit older than Allen, but my parents, grandparents, and other family members knew full well in raising me that the n-word throughout the entire 20th Century had been considered vulgar, except among rude, bigoted people. It is a hate-word and there is no justification for it.

  21. Tim Webster says:

    YetAnotherJohn,
    Yes, my comment still stands. But wait until dust settles before reposting possibly false claims. See this article:

    More Racial Accusations in Va. Senate Race

    Written By Gary Reals – 9NEWS NOW
    Created:9/28/2006 9:11:08 PM
    Last Updated:9/28/2006 11:50:48 PM

    A Vietnam vet who interviewed U.S. Senate candidate Jim Webb for a newspaper article in 1983 says the Democrat told him of college pranks he took part in 20 years earlier in which racial epithets were used and guns pointed at African Americans on the streets of Watts.

    Dan Cragg, who later worked with Webb at the Pentagon during the Reagan Administration, says Webb’s account is missing both from the tape recording and transcript of his interview with the rising star among Vietnam veterans. Cragg says he doesn’t remember if he erased that part of the tape or failed to record that part of the interview.

    Jim Webb campaign spokeswoman Kristian Denny Todd called Cragg’s account “a lie.” She added “the Allen campaign, in their desperation, has chosen to find someone to manufacture a lie.”

    Cragg says he decided to go public with his recollection of Webb’s comments concerning ROTC pranks he says he took part in while a freshman at the University of Southern California in 1963, after seeing George Allen defend himself against racism charges earlier this week. According to Cragg, when Webb did not publicly repudiate the allegations against Allen, he decided to “level the playing field.”

    Cragg said he discussed his decision to go public with representatives of Sen. Allen’s campaign, but is doing so of his own volition. He says he was “devastated” by Webb’s decision to switch from the Republican to the Democratic Party.