CNN host Brooke Baldwin ended a segment in tears Tuesday after one of her guests, quoting the hateful, bigoted rhetoric of our soon-to-be Chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, said the n-word on air. And no, he didn’t say “n-word,” he said “nigger”.
As Raw Story notes, appearing on the show with black GOP consultant Paris Dennard (who seems mighty comfortable working for a party filled with people who hate him and who are going out of their way to make life for difficult for him), journalist Charles Kaiser did the best he could to talk some sense and ended up appearing like the only person onscreen who actually cares about racism.
Railing against the many, many bigots Trump plans to put into power, Kaiser eventually landed on Bannon.
“If you don’t want to support the alt-right don’t choose as a White House counselor a man who uses the word nigger. Whose wife says that he did not want his daughters to go to a school with too many jews. And don’t choose as an Attorney General a man who calls the NAACP an un-American organization.”
Baldwin then interrupted Kaiser for a glorious moment of that sweet, sweet CNN-brand grandstanding to express her utter horror with his use of the word “nigger.”
“I appreciate you going through all this,” she said, “but please don’t use the n-word on my show.” OH OKAY GIRL.
Kaiser explained that he never uses the word except when he’s quoting someone who is about to work in the Oval Office, which he notes is “a disgusting moment in our history.”
Should Kaiser have censored himself? Perhaps, but probably not. In using the actual word, he was making a point about how inappropriate it is to have a man like Bannon in the White House. I’m guessing Kaiser knew what he was doing here. Being clear about the seriousness of the situation at hand is necessary and is supposedly the job of networks like CNN. Kaiser did tell the Washington Post later that he was sorry for misquoting Bannon (there’s no evidence that Bannon has used that specific word), and had confused him with Sen. Jeff Sessions, current nominee for Attorney General, who was also referenced in his comments. However, the rest of what he says appears to stand. “There’s a part of me that feels you can’t fully express the shocking nature of the first appointments of Donald Trump without using the actual words used by these appointees,” he said.
But back to Baldwin: To get upset about the use of the word instead of the fact that we’re literally loading our government with racists, sexists and homophobes is simple-minded, smarmy and profoundly unhelpful.
Baldwin ended the segment on the verge of tears, chiding Kaiser and sputtering that what he did was “not okay.” She later doubled down on her absurd sensitivity with a tweet.
You know who wasn’t in tears after hearing Kaiser say “nigger”? This black person—someone that word is actually directed towards.
Actor Jeffrey Wright, another black person who presumably didn’t clutch his pearls after hearing one man quote another man, appropriately skewered Baldwin for her misguided dismay.
What is perhaps most frustrating is that Baldwin almost certainly thought she was taking some sort of bold and principled stand against racism and likely fancies herself an ally of sorts, or at least an objective journalist. However, her focus on the word instead of, you know, the actual racism, portrayed her as neither.