The latest non-controversy surrounding a GOP presidential hopeful involves a moment where Rick Santorum allegedly said, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them someone else’s money.”

As a result of this supposedly “racist” comment, some political pundits at MSNBC are convinced that, whether he meant to or not, Rick Santorum is engaged in a covert Republican operation to “lure…white working class” voters by using racist “dog-whistle” politics.

“Joan, are you buying [Santorum’s] answer at this point?” MSNBC host Ed Shultz asked Salon.com editor Joan Walsh.

“This really is the kind of dog-whistle politics that the Republican party has used to lure our people, the white working class, over to their party, to tell them over and over that money’s being — their money’s being given to black people when in fact, as we all know, it’s been given to rich people,” Joan Walsh, editor of Salon magazine, said.

However, if you watch the former Pennsylvania Senator make the allegedly “racist” comment, it’s clear that he simply mumbled his words:

“I‘m pretty confident I didn’t say `black,’” Santorum said, responding to critics who have accused him of racism. “I’ve looked at it several times. I was starting to say one word and I sort of came up with a different word and then moved on.”

Indeed, if one examines the remark within the context it was made, using the word “blacks” makes about as much sense as using the word “spatulas.” There is nothing in his presentation that precludes a focus on “blacks” nor are there any subsequent remarks that would have made this comment make any sense. If Santorum did indeed use the word “blacks,” it would mean that — in front of dozens of cameras and potential voters — he decided suddenly to abandon his speech in order to inject a racially-charged non sequitur–something far more difficult to believe than a simple case of mumbling.

For some reason, this hasn’t occurred to several pundits at MSNBC.

“Michael, you buy Santorum’s excuse and is this going to be a problem for him?” Shultz asked MSNBC political analyst Michael Eric Dyson

“I don’t buy it at all. I think Joan is absolutely right. Not only is it ‘dog-whistle’ politics, it’s the politics of divisive, cynical, Republican ideology here,” Dyson said. “Because if you’re talking about government funding through tax dollars, you’re talking about social security, Medicaid, Medicare, veteran’s benefits, you’re speaking about unemployment benefits, bailouts for corporations and the like, and — as Joan said — the redistribution of money upwards to rich people. So why in the world would you single out African American people who are a small percentage of those who receive the benefits?”

Could the answer be that he simply didn’t?

(h/t Weasel Zippers)