Celeb Chef Laments ‘Tumultuous’ Trump, Decries ‘Tear-Gassing of Children’

Appearing on NBC’s Today show, Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi bemoaned the “tumultuous” Trump presidency and slammed the administration’s immigration policy, accusing the Border Patrol of “tear-gassing children.” She also discussed the September New York Times op-ed she wrote attacking then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

After being touted as “a champion of women’s rights” and “ACLU Ambassador for Immigration,” Lakshmi lamented to co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb: “I mean, you know, obviously, the last two years have been tumultuous for a lot of us. And honestly, I wouldn’t even have even said I’m a very political person, but I seem to have found myself speaking out on a variety of issues...”

 

 

Promoting her left-wing activism minutes later, Lakshmi proclaimed:

I want to be known as an advocate for the ACLU. I’m an ambassador for them for immigration rights. Obviously even this morning, coming here, I was reading about all the tear-gassing of children on the border, and it’s devastating. You know, I am an immigrant and I really identify with those people....When someone leaves their home and everything they know and belong to, to go to another country, it’s because they have little other choice. And we forget that.

The fact that Border Patrol agents only fired tear gas to disperse the crowd after Central American migrants began throwing rocks at them was not mentioned in the exchange.  

The celebrity chef proceeded to lecture those concerned about illegal immigration: “We have plenty in this country. Plenty to share. Plenty for everybody. And I think we need to remember that the reason we’re great is because of this melting pot of immigrants....That’s really, to me, what makes America great. Not just its military or its capitalism, although those things are also built by immigrants.”

The primary reason for Lakshmi’s appearance was to share her story of sexual assault, which she first revealed in a New York Times op-ed in September. That article also served as a hit piece against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, presuming him guilty of unsubstantiated allegations.

Recounting being raped at age 16 by her boyfriend, in the Times, Lakshmi explained that she decided go public in the wake of the accusations against Kavanaugh. Wrapping up the piece, she demanded:

I am speaking now because I want us all to fight so that our daughters never know this fear and shame and our sons know that girls’ bodies do not exist for their pleasure and that abuse has grave consequences.

Those messages should be very clear as we consider whom we appoint to make decisions on the highest court of our land.

Talking to Guthrie and Kotb on Monday, Lakshmi declared Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford to be “a hero to many of us” and recalled her concern at the time about not writing the article: “How am I going to feel if he gets confirmed and I didn’t say something? I’m going to regret that for the rest of my life.”

The media hyped Lakshmi’s op-ed in September as if it was somehow evidence of Kavanaugh’s guilt. Even weeks after he has since taken his seat on the Supreme Court, NBC continues to push the narrative of him being a sexual predator.

Here are excerpts of the November 26 interview with Lakshmi:

7:32 AM ET

HODA KOTB: Now to a Today exclusive. In a moment, we’ll be speaking to Padma Lakshmi. She’s the host of Top Chef and an ACLU Ambassador for Women’s Rights and Immigration. She’ll open up for the first time on television about here New York Times op-ed where she revealed she is a survivor of sexual assault.

(...)

7:33 AM ET

KOTB: Lakshmi said she made the difficult decision to come forward because of the allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, which he denies. “Some say a man should not pay a price for an act he committed as a teenager. But the woman pays the price for the rest of her life, and so do the people that love her.”

At the time, President Trump questioned why Kavanaugh’s initial accuser didn’t file a police report, prompting Lakshmi, celebrities, and ordinary people alike to share their own harrowing stories with the viral hash tag #whyididntreport. But now, Lakshmi is speaking up, loudly.

(...)

7:34 AM ET

KOTB: Lakshmi is a champion of women’s rights, creating the Endometriosis Foundation of America.

PADMA LAKSHMI: I myself had two emergency surgeries before the word was ever uttered to me.

KOTB: And ACLU Ambassador for Immigration.

LAKSHMI: My name is Padma and I am an immigrant.

KOTB: Lakshmi immigrated to the United States from India when she was just four years old.

LAKSHMI: There is no story of ours that is disconnected from the American story.

KOTB: An advocate, ally, and inspiration to many around the world.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: And Padma Lakshmi joins us now. Padma, good morning.

KOTB: Padma, good morning.

LAKSHMI: Good morning.

GUTHRIE: You’ve been here so many times.

LAKSHMI: Mostly to cook. [Laughter]

GUTHRIE: Yeah, never like this. How are you doing? How are you feeling?

LAKSHMI: I’m good. I mean, you know, obviously, the last two years have been tumultuous for a lot of us. And honestly, I wouldn’t even have even said I’m a very political person, but I seem to have found myself speaking out on a variety of issues, just because I think, when you get older, you have a power that you didn't have when you were young. You feel able to speak out.

(...)

7:35 AM ET

LAKSHMI: I mean, I don’t know, Hoda, if I would have written that piece if President Trump hadn’t tweeted that Friday night of, you know, “If it was so bad,” or whatever he said, “why didn’t she report it? Why didn’t her loving parents report it?” Well, you know, a lot of us don’t report it. There’s no upside to reporting it. There was no upside for Dr. Ford, clearly. You know? But she’s a hero to many of us.

(...)

7:36 AM ET

LAKSHMI: And I used to write for The New York Times syndicate, so I know how they work. So I was furiously writing it after my daughter, Christian, went to bed that weekend. And, you know, at one point I said, “No, I’m not going to do this.” And then I couldn’t sleep, and I thought, “How am I going to feel,” – then we didn’t know what would happen – but, “How am I going to feel if he gets confirmed and I didn’t say something? I’m going to regret that for the rest of my life.”

(...)

7:40 AM ET

HODA KOTB: In our last few seconds, how do you want to be known? You said you don’t want to be known as “that girl.”  

LAKSHMI: I want to be known as an advocate for the ACLU. I’m an ambassador for them for immigration rights. Obviously even this morning, coming here, I was reading about all the tear-gassing of children on the border, and it’s devastating. You know, I am an immigrant and I really identify with those people. My mother literally came to this country with $100 in her pocket. That is it. And she made a life for me and her and she left a very bad situation for both of us in India. That takes courage. When someone leaves their home and everything they know and belong to, to go to another country, it’s because they have little other choice. And we forget that.

We have plenty in this country. Plenty to share. Plenty for everybody. And I think we need to remember that the reason we’re great is because of this melting pot of immigrants and this great cornucopia of influences and cultures and traits and just, you know, expertise that we call from all over the world. That’s really, to me, what makes America great. Not just its military or its capitalism, although those things are also built by immigrants.

GUTHRIE: Padma Lakshmi, as I said, you’ve been here many, many times. We’re so grateful to have you and have you share your thoughts this morning.

(...)

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