President Trump’s press conference Thursday had many unbelievable moments. But one of the most shocking was an exchange in which Trump asked a black reporter to set up a meeting for him with the Congressional Black Caucus, and asked if the caucus members were “friends” of hers.
April Ryan, the White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks in Baltimore, asked Trump whether he would include the Congressional Black Caucus in conversations about his “urban agenda” for the “inner city.”
But Ryan used the abbreviation “CBC” for the Congressional Black Caucus at first — and Trump didn’t appear to know what she was referring to.
“Am I going to include who?” he asked.
Ryan clarified: “Are you going to include the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus — ”
“Well, I would,” Trump interrupted. “I tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting? Do you want to set up the meeting?”
“No, no, no, I’m just a reporter,” Ryan said.
“Are they friends of yours?” Trump asked.
Ryan replied, before Trump cut her off again, “I know some of them, but I’m sure they’re watching right now — ”
“I would love to meet with the Black Caucus,” Trump said. “I think it’s great, the Congressional Black Caucus, I think it’s great.”
As it turns out, the CBC asked Trump for a meeting weeks ago and never heard back:
Hi, @realDonaldTrump. We’re the CBC. We sent you a letter on January 19, but you never wrote us back. Sad! Letter: https://t.co/58KiuHmITF— The CBC (@OfficialCBC) February 16, 2017
Trump seems to have assumed that just because Ryan was black and asked a question about the CBC, she would know the caucus members personally and be able to set up a meeting with them. Trump’s question also reveals a basic ignorance of how reporters do their job.
As my colleague Jenée Desmond-Harris has explained, Trump has a big problem with racially stereotyping black people. He seems almost incapable of mentioning black Americans without also mentioning the “inner city,” which he strictly describes as a blighted, crime-ridden hellscape. But that association is not only racist stereotyping — it also doesn’t reflect how black Americans really live.