The problem for modern-day Republicans, like Ryan, is that most of them were trained during an age when direct mail marketing was the primary GOP outreach tool. This allowed them to send direct messages to targeted groups where they could really let the “Southern Strategy” loose, sending out vile rhetoric without the risk of it reaching mainstream audiences at the national level. Now that we’re in a digital age, these Republicans haven’t yet seemed to figure out that once you send out a message, it’s likely to reach well beyond your intended audience.
This would explain why they seem so genuinely shocked that people find out about their stupid crap. “Ooh, we never expected actual black people to hear about how lazy and shiftless they are!”
However, I do feel like this theory gives them simultaneously too much credit and too little. These guys throw this stuff out there so their rabid nutball base hears it, then they apologize, and their wingnut base knows the apology was just more persecution by the liberal media and that the original statement still stands.
The message is still out there, reaching the people it was intended to reach in the first place.