My wife called on the morning after the New York primary to ask if I had heard Carl Paladino on NPR that morning. I said that nothing Paladino would say could surprise me. I was wrong.
Paladino is Donald Trump’s honorary chair of his New York campaign. He was also the Republican nominee against Andrew Cuomo in 2011.
In describing Trump’s appeal to his supporters, Paladino said they wanted to “get the raccoons out of the basement.” The NPR reporter, David Greene, promptly terminated the interview at that point.
It’s not surprising that prominent Trump surrogates don’t hide behind the usual “dog whistles” in making their bigoted comments. The candidate himself has described Mexicans as rapists and has proposed banning all Muslims from entering the United States. Paladino has a history of passing along racist emails.
What is surprising, however, is how little attention has been paid to this comment by the political commentariat and the Main Stream Media. It’s not because they think it is trivial. There is no shortage of reporting on such less-than-cosmic matters as Bernie Sanders not knowing New York’s subways no longer accept tokens or Trump’s mistakenly referring to “9/11” as “7/11.”
Admittedly, Paladino is a complete nitwit. But he is Trump’s leading supporter in a major state and, indeed, stood right next to him during his victory speech. He also enthusiastically intimates that violence is an accepted part of political life in American politics, having threatened to bring a baseball bat to Albany while campaigning for Governor.
The media has moved on to its “narrative” for the week in opining that Trump has suddenly righted his campaign ship and is now appearing more “Presidential.” Having a top surrogate making blatantly racist statements, however, disrupts that narrative. They should at least be reporting the statement and getting a statement from the Trump campaign. So far, the only national outlet that I have seen reporting this is The Huffington Post. Trump had yet to respond to their request for a comment.