Once upon a time in 2016, in the wake of President Trump’s election, conservative writer and policy advisor Stephen Moore decided to share a little joke.
“There’s that great cartoon going along that [shows] the New York Times headline ‘First Thing Donald Trump Does As President Is Kick a Black Family Out of Public Housing,’ and it has Obama leaving the White House,” Moore said, eliciting a chorus of groans and laughter from the audience. “I mean, I just love that one!”
Moore is now one of Trump’s nominees for the Federal Reserve Board. On Tuesday, PBS’s Margaret Hoover gave Moore an opportunity to address the racist joke, and Moore’s attempts at clarity quickly turned into a sputtering mess:
“But I didn’t mean it like a black person did. I just meant that, you know, you know, being in the White House, you know, for example, when I was working with a lot of women and families who were involved in the education voucher program, you know, here in D.C., and people would say well, you know, uh—and these were blacks who would say—‘Why does Barack Obama get to send his kids to any school that he wants to and we can’t?’ And they say he lives in public housing, and it was just kind of a joke.”
Moore added that while he shouldn’t have said it, he has a “long paper trail” of saying offensive shit. Given that Moore was recently under fire for his writings from the early 2000s asserting that women should be banned from refereeing sporting events and that women tennis players want “equal pay for inferior work,” this tracks.
But I have to hand it to Moore, he really hit the white-people-defending-their-racist-shit-very-poorly trifecta flawlessly: Managing to make the word “black” (or, in Moore’s case, “BLACK”) sound like a curse word? Check. Invoking other “BLACKS” who can apparently agree with you? Check. Insisting that it was just a joke at the end of the day? Check.
Only the best people!