The List

4 racial controversies at the GOP convention

Despite the Republican Party's attempts to put a diverse face on its Tampa gathering, racial tensions have erupted on the floor, behind the scenes, and on TV

The Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., has been notable for the racial diversity of its speakers, which is part of a push by the GOP to temper its reputation as a monolithically white party. Of course, with a party platform that is perceived as being hostile to Latino immigrants, and a nominee who has jokingly questioned the citizenship of the country's first black president, the GOP's diversity push was always going to be a hard sell, even with a lineup of speakers that includes former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. Still, no one could have predicted that racial controversies would become a dominant storyline at the convention, particularly since economic issues are expected to determine the election. Here, a look at the GOP convention's flare-ups over race:

1. Two attendees heckle a black CNN camerawoman
In a remarkably ugly incident on Tuesday, two attendees were thrown out of the convention for "throwing nuts at a black CNN camerawoman and saying, 'This is how we feed animals,'" says David Taintor at Talking Points Memo. Convention officials distanced themselves from the two individuals, saying their behavior was "deplorable." However, that hasn't stopped some from seeing the incident as reflective of a virulent streak of racism that runs through part of the conservative base. Others gave the rest of the attendees the benefit of the doubt: The Democratic Party "continually talks about what terrible racist savages Republicans are, yet 99.9 percent of the convention managed to avoid assaulting a lady just because she was black," says Jesse Taylor at Wonkette.

2. A Yahoo News editor accuses the Romneys of racism
Yahoo News fired its Washington, D.C., bureau chief, David Chalian, after he was caught on a hot-mic at the convention claiming that Mitt and Ann Romney did not care if blacks were drowned by Hurricane Isaac, which is currently battering New Orleans. "They're not concerned at all," Chalian said. "They're happy to have a party with black people drowning." Yahoo said Chalian's statements were "inappropriate," and apologized to the Romneys. Conservatives said Chalian's comments were evidence of anti-Republican bias in the media, while many of Chalian's colleagues took to Twitter to defend him.

3. MSNBC edits out minority speakers
Conservative media outlets are accusing left-leaning MSNBC of cutting minority speakers from its live convention coverage. "If you were watching MSNBC's coverage," you might believe liberal assertions that the GOP is "the party of old white people, devoid of diversity, and probably racist," says Jeff Poor at The Daily Caller. MSNBC viewers were not able to see speeches by Ted Cruz, Artur Davis, or Mia Love, all of whom had been placed front and center to help show the diversity of the GOP's elected officials. 

4. A Puerto Rican official is shouted down
While supporters of libertarian Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) were protesting a decision by the Republican National Convention to change its delegate rules, a Puerto Rican official took her turn on the main stage. As soon as she began to speak, the crowd started shouting, "USA! USA!" Exasperated conservatives argued that it was just a coincidence, and that the chanters were not directing their protests at the woman onstage.

Sources: Daily CallerFireDogLake, Harper'sMediaiteNational ReviewPoliticoTalking Points Memo, Washington ExaminerWonkette

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

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