ERRIN HAINES WHACK, Associated Press
Many African-Americans are expressing outrage over a testy exchange between President Donald Trump and a veteran black journalist, with many considering the incident to be the latest indication of his inability to relate to them.
Already skeptical of Trump, many blacks said they were exasperated by the fact that, during his news conference on Thursday, the new president asked April Ryan, longtime White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, to help broker a meeting for him with black lawmakers.
“Will you meet with the Congressional Black Caucus?” Ryan asked. Trump responded: “I would. You want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours?”
The exchange set off a firestorm on social media as many black people balked at Trump’s suggestion of an assumed relationship between Ryan and CBC members because they are of the same race.
Susan Rice, U.N. ambassador under the Obama administration, tweeted an article about the incident and called Trump’s remarks “notably offensive.”
“I’m also really pleased he didn’t ask her to sweep and mop in the room where the press conference was being held,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, a former CBC chairman, quipped during an MSNBC interview on Friday.
Adding to the ire: It was the second time in less than 30 days — and during Black History Month — that Trump said something that came across as indifferent toward black people. The president was ridiculed Feb. 1 for praising abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who died in 1895, as someone “who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more.”
After Thursday’s news conference, the CBC tweeted a copy of a letter, dated Jan. 19 and addressed to Trump, requesting a meeting. The caucus said although it got no response to that letter, Trump did reach out Thursday and that plans for a meeting are now in the works.