Democratic strategist Cornell Belcher was up-in-arms Thursday over Herman Cain's remarks that African-Americans have been "brainwashed" to vote Democratic. Belcher, an African-American, called the remarks "racist" and "bigoted" and added that Cain "should be treated like a racist and bigoted person."
Belcher, who was furious for the entirety of the segment and repeatedly interrupted fellow guest Ari Fleischer, accused CNN of harboring a "double standard."
Belcher ranted to host Anderson Cooper, "I guarantee you, if I came on your program and said that all Jewish people were brainwashed, you wouldn't invite me back on this program – on CNN. I would not be back on CNN. I'm sure of that. There's a double standard here."
Ari Fleischer, former Bush press secretary, was brought on to provide the Republican viewpoint and at first wouldn't comment on the racial implications of the remarks. But after being repeatedly badgered by a heated Belcher, Fleischer threw water on his histrionics.
"Cornell, Crossfire got canceled for a reason. Let me finish," he told Belcher.
Fleischer added that "when people start throwing the word 'racism' around that's when I end the conversation because you cannot have an intelligent conversation when people are accusing people in the public square of that."
A transcript of the segment, which aired on September 29 at 8:13 p.m. EDT, is as follows:
ANDERSON COOPER: Cornell, Cain also told Wolf that he could take a third of African-American votes, he says he's basing that on anecdotal evidence. You're the pollster. Is there any polling out there that could help make that case?
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: First of all, do you think you're going to invite me on the show and then I'm not going to talk about the ridiculousness of that statement? Two things. One is a great way to sort of get people on your side and win voters is to attack their intelligence. So great job there. Really sensible, Herman Cain.
The second part here is, it's really a teachable moment. You know, if I came on your show, Anderson, and I said, all Jewish people are brainwashed, I probably wouldn't be invited back to CNN and I assure you the condemnation would be swift and it'd be powerful and be strong. What Herman Cain said was a racist, bigoted statement and he should be treated like a racist and bigoted person who makes those racist and bigoted statements.
BELCHER: You know, I – no, I'm all in on this one. So, Ari, if he had said -- came on a statement on and said that all Jewish people are brainwashed, you would just leave that alone? You wouldn't touch that at all? But it's different if he says that about African- Americans? Why aren't you touching this?
FLEISCHER: Because I'm not going to get into racial politics. I think that nobody wins when people –
BELCHER: And he didn't get into racial politics when he said that all black people were brainwashed?
COOPER: Cornell, let me ask you –
BELCHER: He's number three right now in the polls and he's getting into racial politics saying that all black people were brainwashed?
FLEISCHER: Cornell? Cornell? Pick your fight with Herman Cain. Don't pick your fight –
BELCHER: The fight's not with me. I actually consider you a friend. And I'm stunned –
FLEISCHER: Cornell, pick your fight with Herman Cain. Don't pick your fight with me.
BELCHER: I actually consider you a friend. I'm not fighting you. I'm just asking you a question because I can't believe that there's no condemnation about such a bigoted statement.
COOPER: Cornell, let me just ask you. I mean – are you sure it's racist? I mean, don't plenty of people make the statement that well, this group is brainwashed –
BELCHER: What is the definition of – of – of "racism" or "bigotry"? It is in fact putting a blank statement on a whole group of people. And again, Anderson, I guarantee you, if I came on your program and said that all Jewish people were brainwashed, you wouldn't invite me back on this program – on CNN. I would not be back on CNN. I'm sure of that. There's a double standard here. And I think this is – this is a teachable moment.
COOPER: Don't people often say, though, well, liberals think this, or – I mean people make vast statements about groups all the time.
BELCHER: Well – well –
COOPER: I mean independent voters think this or –
BELCHER: Well liberals – well, liberals didn't have a history of Jim Crow or slavery, so it's different.
FLEISCHER: Let me jump in. I'm not – I'm not going to dwell on this topic, but remember the question was about people being poisoned about a party. So there's a presumption in the question also that just flows from the fact that 90 to 95 percent of African-Americans vote a certain way. But when people start throwing the word "racism" around that's when I end the conversation because you cannot have an intelligent conversation when people are accusing people in the public square of that. So I'm not even want to get into that topic.
COOPER: Cornell --
FLEISCHER: What you do have is this fascinating dynamic –
FLEISCHER: Cornell, don't interrupt.
BELCHER: When someone makes a bigoted or a racist –
BELCHER: Ari, I think I'm not going to be bashful about calling them a racist or a bigot. And it's a bigoted statement, when you're calling all black people brainwashed –
FLEISCHER: Are you done, Cornell?
BELCHER: – that's a bigoted statement. That's a bigoted statement, Ari?
FLEISCHER: Cornell –
BELCHER: Yeah, I'm done.
FLEISCHER: Cornell, Crossfire got canceled for a reason. Let me finish.