During Thursday’s edition of CNN’s At This Hour with Kate Bolduan, CNN commentator (and former Clinton administration vet) Keith Boykin went on a rant against President Trump, saying “Donald Trump exists to divide us. Everything he does is divisive.” Boykin also effectively blamed President Trump for comedian Samantha Bee’s decision to refer to his daughter Ivanka as a “c***”: “I think the larger point here that is missing is the culture that is being generated from the President and the top.”
Host Kate Bolduan prefaced the segment by claiming that a pattern has developed where “racism happens and he (President Trump) doesn’t call it out, from David Duke to the violence in Charlottesville.” She said that his refusal to explicitly call out comedian Roseanne Barr’s heinous tweet comparing Former Obama Adviser Valerie Jarrett to an ape serves as the latest example of this pattern.
Before bringing out her panel -- Boykin and liberal Margaret Hoover -- she replayed a tape of President Trump’s response to the violence at a white supremacist-organized rally in Charlottesville, where he claimed that “there’s blame on both sides” for the violence, referring to Antifa counter-protesters who showed up at the rally.
Bolduan mentioned that in the wake of Roseanne’s tweet, a lot of “what-aboutism” has occurred, specifically citing how other people have said equally offensive things as Roseanne but have not lost their job or TV show like she did. She cited comments from Samantha Bee, which aired on Wednesday’s edition of Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, as the latest example. Bee told President Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka, who works as a White House Advisor to “do something about your dad’s immigration policies, you feckless c***.”
At this point, Bolduan asked Boykin to respond. He said “I think it’s inappropriate,” while Bolduan jumped in and referred to Bee’s comments as “horrible,” adding that “it should be called what it was. What she said was disgusting.” Boykin reiterated his earlier statement, “I think it’s inappropriate.”
Boykin tried to contrast President Trump with more unifying Presidents such as Lincoln, “who talked about the better angels of our nature” or Obama, who “tried to heal the nation, said there were no red states or blue states.” Apparently, he forgot that the “great unifier” once dismissed people in the midwest as “bitter clingers.”
Boykin did his best to paint President Trump as the “great divider”: “Donald Trump exists to divide us. Everything he does is divisive. This whole Roseanne thing, we talked about this yesterday, it could have been a slam dunk for him just to say this was wrong, it was inappropriate. But he didn’t do that.”
Boykin insinuated that President Trump has a political motivation for not calling out Roseanne: “I think the reason why he is doing this, honestly, I thought about this last night, I think he’s doing it because he wants to continue to have this perpetual outrage among his base so they can have a reason to vote for, vote for the Republican candidates in the midterms. There’s no justification for him not to, not to call out Roseanne for her racist behavior.”
Hoover echoed the point. Trump is “hitting on these themes of cultural resentment that motivate his base, and you’re exactly right. I don’t even think he even plans or thinks about it strategically as politically like, what’s going to happen in the midterms, but he knows that it riles up the crowd that loves him.”
In other words, President Trump's supporters are racists who need sensitivity training. Based on the events that have unfolded in the past 48 hours with Samantha Bee, it looks like liberals might need a little sensitivity training of their own. But don’t expect anyone in the media to jump off their high horse and admit that anytime soon.
At This Hour With Kate Bolduan
KATE BOLDUAN: President Trump today attacking the head of Disney, Bob Iger; doing that for a second day in a row. Also for a second day in a row, avoiding the elephant in the room, in this case, his Twitter feed. The President not calling out the racist anti-Semitic tweets from Roseanne Barr. This seems to follow a pattern though, racism happens, and he doesn’t call it out, from David Duke to the violence in Charlottesville.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I do think there’s blame...Yes, I think there’s blame on both sides.
TRUMP: You look, you look at both sides, I think there’s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it, either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: All right. Joining me right now, Keith Boykin, CNN Political Commentator and Former Clinton White House aide, and Margaret Hoover, CNN political commentator and the host of the renewed “Firing Line” on PBS, which premieres tomorrow. Congratulations, Margaret.
MARGARET HOOVER: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: All right, let’s get to it. Margaret, it does seem a pattern. Major event happens, racism occurs, Donald Trump struggles, struggles to just call it out…David Duke, Charlottesville, Roseanne Barr. Why does he resist calling out racism when it occurs?
MARGARET HOOVER: I can’t pretend to understand or give some sort of sensibility or reason for the President’s behavior here. It is deeply appalling and almost universally understood phenomenon when anybody sort of likens…I just don’t even want to recreate what he did. Racism is racism. We talk about it. What I would like to see is us have more conversations about this and sort of why inciting this kind of conversation and those words are harmful, what the history is so that people learn something from these tweets rather than just us talking about who is up, who is down, because there is a real history of racism in this country, and the racism today looks different than Bull Connor racism from the 1960s but it’s still there. And we should have these conversations and use them as teaching moments.
BOLDUAN: Keith, with this conversation, it happened in some of our previous conversations over the last couple days, I’ve heard a lot of “what-aboutism,” we’ll call it. Right? Since this Roseanne thing blew up. The latest example occurred last night with Samantha Bee. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMANTHA BEE: Ivanka Trump, who works at the White House, chose to post the second most oblivious tweet we’ve seen this week. You know, Ivanka, that’s a beautiful photo of you and your child, but let me just say, one mother to another, do something about your dad’s immigration practices you feckless c***.
He listens to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: You say?
KEITH BOYKIN: Well, I mean, I think the point she was trying to make was about immigration. I think the point got lost in her comment. And I don’t know how people are responding to it, but I think…
BOLDUAN: It’s horrible.
BOYKIN: I think it’s inappropriate.
BOLDUAN: It should be called what it was. What she said was disgusting.
BOYKIN: Well, I think it’s inappropriate. I think it’s, it’s vulgar. I don’t know if the point of it is to try to equate that with what Roseanne Barr was saying, but I don’t think that should be the issue.
BOLDUAN: That comes to “what-aboutism.” That’s part of where the discussion needs to be. Right? You have sexism, you have racism. Both are horrible, both what was said is disgusting, but there is a historical context behind what Roseanne Barr did though I don’t, that doesn’t raise it to another level.
BOYKIN: It’s different than a white person is calling a black person an ape as opposed to a woman saying something negative about a woman. But I think the larger point here that is missing is the culture that is being generated from the President and the top. We had Presidents in the past, Democrat and Republican, who tried to bring our country together. Lincoln talked about the better angels of our nature. Obama tried to heal the nation, said there were no red states or blue states. Donald Trump exists to divide us. Everything he does is divisive. This whole Roseanne thing, we talked about this yesterday, it could have been a slam dunk for him just to say this was wrong, it was inappropriate. But he didn’t do that. I think the reason why he is doing this, honestly, I thought about this last night, I think he’s doing it because he wants to continue to have this perpetual outrage among his base so they can have a reason to vote for, vote for the Republican candidates in the midterms. There’s no justification for him not to, not to call out Roseanne for her racist behavior.
BOLDUAN: We've got to go.
HOOVER: What he is doing is, is hitting on these themes of cultural resentment that motivate his base, and you’re exactly right. I don’t even think he even plans or thinks about it strategically as politically like, what’s going to happen in the midterms, but he knows that it riles up the crowd that loves him.
BOLDUAN: I know, right. It riles them up. But even if he called it out, they’re not going to leave him. They love him that much. I mean, that’s the thing that kind of sticks with me.