CNN’s Don Lemon vented his full exasperation over President Donald Trump, who expressed his “hope” that systemic racism doesn’t exist in the country, during a rambling and evasive answer to a question from an African-American pastor at the ABC News town hall.
During his show on Tuesday night, Lemon, along with his guest, Washington Post’s David Swerdlick, dissected the president’s response just minutes earlier to Pastor Carl Day, who pressed Trump on the historical reference point for his “Make America Great Again” slogan. Day had noted that many Black neighborhoods have faced decades of systemically racist policies like redlining, underfunding, and prejudice in hiring.
“The same things happen and systems and cycles continue to ensue. And we need to see — you say ‘again.’ We need to see when was that great,” Day pointed out in a clip played by Lemon. “Could that push us back to a time in which we cannot identify such greatness. You have said everything else about choking and everything else. You have yet to address and acknowledge there’s a race problem in America.”
Trump’s response was anything but responsive to Day’s question, however.
“If you go — I hope there’s not a race problem,” Trump said, before proclaiming his own lack of racism, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. “There’s none with me. I have great respect for all races. For everybody. This country is great because of it. When you go back six months and take a look at what was happening. You can’t compare that with past administrations. When you look at income level, and a lot of things because of the jobs situation where they had the lowest income. The best unemployment numbers they have ever had. The black community. By far. That was solving a will the of problems. You know what else, it was bringing people together.”
“David,” Lemon began as the clip ended, but then succumbed to laughter over Trump’s response.
“That’s what President Trump is known for: bringing people together, Don,” Swerdlick cut in, as the pair cracked up.
“He did not answer the question,” Lemon pointed out. “When was it great, when was a greater time for African-Americans? [Trump] keeps saying ‘this was before the pandemic.’ That’s not the question. That’s not the question. He keeps saying ‘they.’ Anyway. ‘Is there a race problem?’ ‘I hope there’s not a race problem.’”
“Oh my gosh,” Lemon said, as he hung his head in frustration.
“He did not answer the question, to your point, because he could not the answer the question,” Swerdlick emphasized. “Trump has been able, the president has been able to skate by for almost four years when ever he is asked about race throwing out the African-American unemployment rate. He couldn’t answer the question about ‘Make America Great Again,’ because that slogan, which is an insult, Either means that America was somehow ungreat under his predecessor, the first black president. Or that he wants to take the country back to a point in time far enough back, where, at the same time black citizens in the country citizens of color in general, women, were not equal to white men.”
“The answer the second problem he tried again and again to go back to well six months ago, before Covid-19, things were rosy,” Swerdlick pointed out. “Here’s the reality of the numbers. The black unemployment rate in January of this year was 6%. That was a one and a half percentage point drop from when he took office. Which is good. It doesn’t compare to the over 5% point drop over president Obama eight years in office. Trump may improve on that in the future. Right now it’s puffery when he says things were the best before Covid-19 for black people in America.”
Watch the video above, via CNN.
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