Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sat down with NBC News reporter Sheinelle Jones Thursday for an interview during the Third Hour Today show. It probably didn’t turn out exactly as Jones hoped the interview would turn out.
Jones was hell-bent on pursuing a line of questioning about racism in Trump’s America. If Sheinelle Jones had done her homework before the interview, though, she would have known better than to try to get Condi Rice to blame the woes of the world on racism in America, or specifically President Trump. That’s not how Ms. Rice lives. Throughout her years in public service, Condoleezza Rice has acknowledged racism in America but always points to the progress made between white America and black America. She doesn’t play the victim card.
Rice grew up in Birmingham, Alabama during the days of Jim Crow. She knows what she is talking about.
NBC News’ Sheinelle Jones told Rice “there are people who will say it feels worse now when we’re talking about race” and said others feel that America is currently a “divisive environment.”
Rice quickly responded, “It sure doesn’t feel worse than when I grew up in Jim Crow Alabama. So let’s drop this notion that we’re worse race relations today than we were in the past.”
“I think the hyperbole about how much worse it is isn’t doing us any good,” Rice continued. “This country’s never going to be colorblind. We had the initial original sin of slavery. It’s still with us.”
Not satisfied, Jones pressed Rice to blame President Trump for racial divides in America. It starts with him, you know, was her premise. Sheinelle Jones defaulted to the same reason all Trump critics do when looking to blame the president for something – Trump’s rhetoric. That’s when Condi Rice told the reporter that enough was enough with this nonsense.
“Oh, come on, alright. I would be the first to say we need to watch our language about race,” Rice said. “We need to watch that we don’t use dog whistles to people… but when we start saying, ‘Oh, you know, it’s worse today,’ no, they’re not.”
It is as though Jones got her questions for this interview directly from the DNC talking points. She asked about President Trump’s acknowledgment that he might listen to information offered by foreign entities during the heat of a presidential campaign. Jones went so far as to say that Trump is putting a “For Sale” sign on the upcoming election. Rice again batted that question away by criticizing the reporter for overstating the concern voiced by Trump critics.
Rice took her to task: “Let’s not overstate this, alright? People say things, the President has a tendency to want to say provocative things.”
And, taking one last bite of the Orange Man Bad apple, Jones brought up the Mueller report. Do the conclusions in the Mueller report warrant the impeachment of President Trump? Rice didn’t bother to get down in the mud with the reporter. It was another swing and a miss from Ms. Jones.
Asking about the results of Robert Mueller’s investigation, Jones wondered: “Were you surprised by the conclusion of the report?” Rice replied: “Look, I guess Congress can decide. I think most Americans would like to move on.” Jones pressed: “Does the report warrant talks of impeachment?”
The issue of racism in America is a very personal one for Condi Rice. As I said, she grew up in Birmingham and, as it happens, one of her childhood friends was killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963. Four young black girls were killed in that blast. Condi was eight years old at the time.
Rice’s friend, 11-year-old Denise McNair, died in the blast along with 14-year-olds Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins and Cynthia Wesley. Their deaths at the hands of Ku Klux Klan members garnered national support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Rice has a treasured photo of her friend accepting a kindergarten certificate from Rice’s father, who was a pastor at another church. McNair had gone to preschool there. McNair’s father was the community photographer, documenting birthday parties and weddings in happier times.
More network reporters need to be held accountable when interviewing Republicans and using President Trump as a battering ram. The phony exaggerations of Trump’s actions and policies are tiresome at this point.