Of course this was done on purpose.
Check it out:

Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC’s All In, has a favorite tactic–though not an original one: connecting today’s Republicans with the racist Democrats of the old South. In June, he rewrote history by casting George Wallace as a Republican–an error for which, to his credit, he later apologized. On Wednesday, he appeared to use a more subtle tactic to connect the Tea Party’s Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio to the Ku Klux Klan.

In a segment on possible Tea Party contenders for the Republican Party’s nomination in the 2016 presidential race, Hayes used a graphic (above) that portrayed Cruz, Paul, and Rubio as kings in a deck of cards–and that, rather conveniently, spelled out the initials “K K K.” (Hayes did not say the word “kings” during the segment.)

The use of KKK imagery–historically associated with Democrats, not Republicans–to describe the Tea Party would not be unique to Hayes. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) recently used a burning cross to provide the “T” in “Tea Party” in a fundraising email. Hayes’s “dog whistle” was more clever, but–if intentional–no less offensive.

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