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Oops: Fox Nation Said Barbour Easily 'Fends Off Left-Wing Racial Smears'

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As you can see, the headline reads: "Haley Barbour Fends off Left-Wing Racial Smears with Ease," with an unrelated photo of Barbour smiling and laughing at some public event.

Interestingly, the post in no way documents anything Barbour might have been actually doing in order to fend off criticism. Indeed, it looks like Team Barbour's only response on Monday was a less than successful interview between myself and Barbour's gubernatorial spokesman. Instead, it only reads:

Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi, is increasingly mentioned as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2012.

The Weekly Standard profiles him this week, and liberal bloggers are spotlighting one section where Barbour discusses segregation and racism in Mississippi in his childhood days. You can sense where this is going, right?

It then links to a National Review post by Jim Geraghty, who was bemoaning the knee-jerk accusations of racism against a Southern Republican. "His sin is that, decades later, he remembers his hometown through rose-colored glasses?" Geraghty wrote. "Don't most people do that?"

By the next day, of course, things had changed. Geraghty himself put up a second post, in which he fully stood by his earlier defense that Barbour should not be immediately smeared by liberals as a racist -- but also admitting that Barbour had a pattern of remarks that seemed oblivious to the reality of what was going on around him during his pleasant upbringing.

And the biggest shoe of all dropped -- far from "fending off" any lefty smears "with ease," Barbour himself released a mea culpa statement:

"When asked why my hometown in Mississippi did not suffer the same racial violence when I was a young man that accompanied other towns' integration efforts, I accurately said the community leadership wouldn't tolerate it and helped prevent violence there. My point was my town rejected the Ku Klux Klan, but nobody should construe that to mean I think the town leadership were saints, either. Their vehicle, called the 'Citizens Council,' is totally indefensible, as is segregation. It was a difficult and painful era for Mississippi, the rest of the country, and especially African Americans who were persecuted in that time."

I left messages with Fox News, asking how exactly the Fox Nation site works, which have not been returned as of this writing.

(Via Adam Serwer.)