PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, Transcript 5/8/2016

Amy Holmes; Liz Plank; Larry Wilmore

Date: May 8, 2016
Guest: Amy Holmes; Liz Plank; Larry Wilmore


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Donald Trump snub.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: What a lot of Republicans want to see
is that we have a standard bearer that bears our standards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Party leaders sit out the election. Will Trump cost
Republicans control of Congress?

It is not a reality show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll talk to the democratic congresswoman trying to
take down John McCain.

Also, Hillary Clinton`s reality check for Bernie Sanders.

as head of senator Sanders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And our exclusive sit-down with Larry Wilmore, his
first on-camera interview since the n-word controversy.

LARRY WILMORE, COMEDIAN: It was at the point where I wanted to make a
statement more than a joke.

REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: you made a statement.

WILMORE: I know, I know. And by the way, Reverend, I`m prepared to live
with the consequences of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why he said it and what it reveals about race and
rhetoric in the age of Obama.

WILMORE: I don`t know if America`s ready for a white president. I really
don`t know, Reverend al. I`m not sure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From Rockefeller center in New York City, this is
“Politics Nation” with Al Sharpton.

SHARPTON: Good morning. I`m Al Sharpton. We start with five words I
thought I`d never say, Donald Trump presumptive Republican nominee, is
really happening. And the man currently in the White House says we must
take it seriously.


OBAMA: This is not a reality show. This is a contest for the presidency
of the United States.


SHARPTON: On the GOP side, party leaders are still trying to come to grips
with it. Both presidents Bush are refusing to support Trump. And house
speaker Paul Ryan won`t endorse Trump either. At least not yet.


RYAN: Just not ready to do that at this point. I`m not there right now.
And I hope to, though. And I want to. But I think what is required is
that we unify this party.


SHARPTON: But the latest national polling shows Trump trailing Hillary
Clinton by double digits. And some Republicans worry he could cost them
control of Congress. Even normally solid incumbents like John McCain are
feeling the squeeze. He says he will support whoever the nominee is, even
if it`s Trump.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I`m a proud Republican. I am a Ronald
Reagan/Teddy Roosevelt Republican, and I support the Republican Party and
the people the Republicans have chosen the nominee for the party. I think
that makes sense.


SHARPTON: That`s what McCain said publicly this week. But here`s what he
said at a private fund-raiser last month.


MCCAIN: If it is Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, here in Arizona,
with over 30 percent of the vote being Hispanic vote, I have no doubt that
this may be the race of my life.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is the lawmaker hoping to ensure this is the race
of McCain`s life, Democratic congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, who is running
against McCain for his Arizona Senate seat.

Congresswoman, let me ask you, is McCain`s support of Trump disqualify him
from your point of view?

REP. ANN KIRKPATRICK (D), ARIZONA: Al, look. John McCain has made it very
clear that he supports Donald Trump. Regardless of what he might say
behind closed doors or say in the future, he said it over and over again.
And look, what shocks me is the fact that he says that in spite of the
hateful, racist, sexist things that Donald Trump has said. You know, it
shows that he`s changed. After 33 years in Washington, he`s not a straight
shooter. He doesn`t stand for something. He`s not a maverick. He`s

SHARPTON: Now, let me go back since you brought up his past. Let me go
back to 2010 and show you an ad that John McCain ran in the 2010 race.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drug and human smuggling, home invasions, murder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re outmanned. Of all the illegals in America, more
than half come through Arizona.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve got the right plan?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The plan is perfect. You bring troops, state, county
and local law enforcement together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And complete the dang fence.


SHARPTON: Blaming immigrants for murder, for home invasion, vowing to
quote “complete the fence.” I mean, this is John McCain. Is that much
difference that you see there between what he`s saying and what Trump is
saying about building a wall?

KIRKPATRICK: You know, it`s another example of how John McCain has
changed. Yes, he ran on build the dang fence, you know. And he says
whatever, you know, he thinks people want to hear. He changes his position
depending on who he is talking to. So he`s told dreamers that he`ll
support the dream act and that he`s voted against it. He has changed. He
is not a straight shooter. He is not a maverick. He doesn`t stand for

SHARPTON: Now, you look at the breakdown of your state, 1.9 million
Hispanics, 1.9 Hispanics, 30 percent of the population, it`s the 6th
largest in the country. So there`s no wonder that McCain is saying in
private this could be the fight of his life, or he could end up defeated if
people come out and vote given the numbers that you see of the Hispanic
population in your state and given that Donald Trump is at the head of that

KIRKPATRICK: Look, Arizona is very diverse. We have a very large minority
population. I was born and raised on the White Mountain apache nation. I
grew up speaking apache. You know, I saw firsthand how tough life is. I
see that also in the Latino communities here in Arizona. And he`s out of
touch. He`s changed. After 33 years in Washington, he`s out of touch with

SHARPTON: Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, thank you for being here this

KIRKPATRICK: Thank you so much.

SHARPTON: Joining me now, MSNBC contributor and “Washington Post”
columnist E.J. Dionne and author of “why the right went wrong.” Thanks for
being here.

E.J. DIONNE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Good to be with you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: So E.J., Speaker Ryan won`t endorse yet. Both Bushes are
staying out. Have you ever seen anything like this in politics?

DIONNE: I don`t think we have ever seen anything quite like this since
Barry Goldwater back in 1964. And this may be worse because in Goldwater`s
case, whether you liked him or hated him, you actually knew where he stood.
And in Trump`s case, people aren`t even sure what he believes. He is kind
of shifts around. He says some wild things. And I think you`re seeing a
lot of Republicans who are either worried about his impact on their chances
for reelection, John McCain is a good example. Some who have principle
reasons for opposing him either because they are conservatives who aren`t
sure if he`s a conservative or a lot of other Republicans who just think
that what he says about women and Latinos and all sorts of other groups,
plus John McCain, even Ted Cruz`s dad, that these are outrageous things to

And when you look at the way he treated Jeb Bush, it is not at all
surprising that the two President Bushes are saying they`re not going to
get in. And Paul Ryan is in a real box here because he is a leader of the
party. He may well want to pick up the pieces if Trump gets clobbered and
run in 2020. So he is expected to support the ticket, but he knows there`s
a real downside and that Trump has contradicted a lot of the things he has
said. And so he and the party have a big, big problem.

SHARPTON: Now, Reince Priebus, the chair of the GOP, was asked about
Trump`s reaction to Paul Ryan on Friday. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump called you within minutes.

good. I can`t lie. No, I wouldn`t lie anyway.


PRIEBUS: That`s right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. What was his mood?

PRIEBUS: You know, it wasn`t, like, furious or anything. It was like what
do I – you know, what do I need to do?


SHARPTON: I mean, Trump has created a literal split in the GOP. You have
the speaker of the house on one side and the chair of the GOP on the other.

DIONNE: You don`t want on tape, by the way, the words “I couldn`t lie, oh,
I wouldn`t lie anyway.” That was a really interesting moment there. And
you have got Priebus and Ryan are good friends from Wisconsin. And they`re
on opposite sides. And I think one of the really striking things is how
much trouble Donald Trump is having being a gracious winner.

This morning he put out this tweet, just bashing Ryan. Paul Ryan said, I
inherited something special, the Republican Party, wrong. I didn`t inherit
it. I won it by millions of voters. Now, what does that do? That puts
Ryan in a terrible position because if he eventually goes along with Trump,
it looks like he is responding to Trump`s pressure. He doesn`t want to
look weak.

SHARPTON: They`re supposed to meet this Thursday. What do you think`s
going to happen?

DIONNE: I think it`s going to be very – I think Trump is not making it
easy for Ryan to come out there and endorse him. And you know,
interestingly, if Trump says some of the things Ryan needs to hear like he
endorses Paul Ryan`s budgets that`s going to make him very unpopular with a
lot of those working-class voters, voters in places like Michigan or
Pennsylvania that he`s trying to win. So it is tricky for Ryan, but it`s
also tricky for Trump if he really wants Ryan`s support.

SHARPTON: E.J. Dionne, thanks for being here.

DIONNE: It`s great to be with you. Thanks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next, the Democratic fight and Hillary Clinton`s two-
front war. Taking fire from both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

And later, one on one with Larry Wilmore. His first on-camera interview
since sparking controversy at the White House correspondents` dinner.



OBAMA: I`m going to let the voters cast their ballots and let the process
play itself out. We`ll know soon enough. It`s not going to be that much


SHARPTON: President Obama weighing in on the Democratic race for
president. Hillary Clinton is now fighting a two-front war, against Bernie
Sanders and Donald Trump. Clinton suggesting that it`s time for Sanders to
help unify the party as she did in 2008.


CLINTON: I will do everything I can to unify the party. I did that when I
pulled out in 2008, some of you remember. You know, I am three million-
plus votes ahead of senator Sanders, right? When I was running against
then-senator Obama, he and I were neck and neck in the popular vote. I
withdrew. I endorsed him. I campaigned with him. I nominated him at the


SHARPTON: But senator Sanders is vowing to fight on.


victory. I admit that it is a narrow path, but we think everybody in this
country, people in California, in Kentucky and West Virginia have a right
to determine who they want to see as president of the United States and
what kind of agenda they want the Democratic Party to have. So we`re going
to fight, Scott, for the very last vote that we can get.


SHARPTON: Few expected the GOP race to be wrapped up so early. Even fewer
thought we`d see a contested convention on the left.

Joining me now is Liz Plank, senior correspondent for VOX, MSNBC political
analyst Jonathan Alter, and conservative political analyst Amy Holmes.
Thank you for being here.




SHARPTON: Jonathan, let me go to you first. Is Clinton right to compare
what she did in 200 to what Sanders is doing now?

ALTER: Well, she is right. And, you know, the other thing that she didn`t
mention but that I think is very important for voters to think about is
that the stakes are really high this year, and the cost of having a divided
Democratic Party is therefore very high. It`s not like the Republican
candidate is Bob Dole or Gerald Ford. We`re talking about Donald Trump,
you know? And so at this point Democrats need to take a good look in the
mirror, look at the math, which is irrefutable. You know, facts are
stubborn things. And the math – Bernie Sanders is not going to be the
nominee of the Democratic Party full stop. So it`s about time people
recognize that and do what`s right for the party.

SHARPTON: Amy, Donald Trump is actually recycling Sanders`s attacks on
Clinton. Here`s what he told Lester Holt this week.


LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Give me three words that you would use to
define her that you will use as you press forward.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, bad judgment is
a couple of words that we can use and that were used by Bernie Sanders.
Bernie Sanders said she is not qualified to run for president because she
suffers from bad judgment. And you think that`s true.


SHARPTON: But Amy, can`t Clinton recycle some of the attacks from some of
the GOP candidates?


SHARPTON: That they made on Trump?

HOLMES: Absolutely. And look for her to do just that. That`s politics.
It isn`t bean bag. Hillary Clinton can complain about Bernie Sanders
staying in the race, but this is a campaign, not a coronation. And she has
to fight for it. And really, and I don`t say this to be cynical or
disingenuous, it`s good for Hillary because it`s good for her to hone her
message, become a better candidate. If anything, Bernie Sanders`s
candidacy – remember, he was 40 points behind. Nobody ever thought he`d
be this competitive, that it underscores what a weak candidate Hillary
Clinton is and that she needs to sharpen up her message, sharpen up her
attacks if she wants to be able to win this election.

SHARPTON: But Liz, you know, the FBI investigation on Clinton`s emails has
– it doesn`t suggest she was intending to break the law, and the state
department is dismissing the claims a hacker broke into her server. Is
Sanders, however, hanging on in case Clinton`s campaign implodes over the
e-mail investigation?

LIZ PLANK, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT FOR VOX: I mean, perhaps. It would be a
good reason to stick around. And you know, the whole dishonesty issue and
trust issue that Hillary Clinton has been having is a lot of it is mostly
due to that case.

And I think there`s also a danger. If you have a candidate on the other
side, on the Republican side, Donald Trump really reeling in – bringing in
voters who are angry, you don`t want to make your base angry either. So
there are a lot of people who are backing Sanders who she`s going to want
to have when she is the nominee. And she doesn`t want to alienate them.
And for them to go and vote for Donald Trump. So it is important for her
to keep that kind of going and to not feed into this narrative that the
system is rigged, that she is this establishment candidate. And so I don`t
see actually anything bad in Sanders sticking around at this point.

HOLMES: What about all of those millennials? Do they want to be told by
Hillary Clinton that their votes don`t count, don`t matter?

PLANK: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: But Jonathan, you know, Mrs. Clinton did what she did in 2008 to
unify the party and for her own political future. She did become secretary
of state and respected in the party. Is there something that she should
offer or give to senator Sanders, if not personally, in a broader policy
sense that would get him out of the race or get him to unify the party?

ALTER: He`s going to stay in until the beginning of June, the California
primary, so she might as well just accept that. It`s not so terrible that
he stays in for a month as long as he doesn`t viciously attack her and
undermine her for the fall. But there are some things that she can do on
the party platform. Like I happen to think that Sanders`s free college
position is a better message –


ALTER: – and a more attractive proposal than Hillary`s very complicated
college loan proposal. Maybe she could say, all right, you know, we will
have some kind of compromise over the platform at the convention so that
that proposal is a little bit more like yours. Or maybe something on
banking regulation. Hillary has some. Sanders wants to break up the
banks. Maybe there`s something in between they could compromise on at the
convention. Now, these things would all be good for the Democratic Party
because it would be stronger to run a little bit further to the left. So
as not to alienate those voters.

SHARPTON: But Liz, you know, let`s look at, as Jonathan talks about, let`s
deal with some other facts. Bernie Sanders just became a Democrat a year
ago. He is 74 years old. So it`s not likely he has another presidential
run down the road. What`s at stake for him here?

PLANK: Right. I mean, he is still raising a lot of money, too. I know
that in the last month his fund-raising has gone down, but still, when you
look at it proportionally, he`s making a lot of money still. So there is
still support there. And so for him to be able to stay in the party and
change the party, I mean, that`s what he wants to do ultimately. He is in
it for the political revolution. So it makes sense at this point that he
is sticking around. And he has moved also his campaign away from this
negative campaign, saying that Hillary Clinton is not qualified to be
president. I think that he is concerned with unifying the party at this
point. So it totally does make sense.

SHARPTON: Hold it one minute, Liz, Jonathan, Amy. Stay with me. Lots
more ahead. And I see you all have a lot more to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll be right back with more “Politics Nation with Al


SHARPTON: Lots more on Donald Trump and the GOP coming up.

Also my exclusive interview with comedian Larry Wilmore. We cover a lot of
ground including his use of the “n” word at the White House correspondents`


WILMORE: You know, I`ve been called the word growing up and that type of

SHARPTON: As you look at race in America and we deal with all of these
issues, given the reaction, given the discussion this week –


SHARPTON: – would you do it again? Would you use that word again in that
setting again?




OBAMA: Their standard bearer at the moment is Donald Trump. And I think
not just Republican officials but more importantly Republican voters are
going to have to make a decision as to whether this is the guy who speaks
for them and represents their values.


SHARPTON: Will the Republicans unify behind Donald Trump? So far many
leaders are staying on the sidelines, like Paul Ryan, who`s meeting with
Trump this week. And the last four GOP nominees including the two last
Republican presidents, none will attend the party`s convention. This past
week the head of the RNC was asked about Trump`s controversial messaging
like his tweet on Cinco o de Mayo which some fear is alienating Hispanics.


PRIEBUS: He`s trying. Honestly, he`s trying. And I`ll tell you what. I
honestly think he understands that building and unifying and growing the
party is the only way we`re going to win.


SHARPTON: He says Trump is trying. But Trump is sticking with his most
controversial ideas like building a wall.


TRUMP: Everybody wants the wall. We`ll have the wall. We`ll have the
wall. Well, that`s very nice. We`ll build that wall. Who`s going to pay
for the wall?

CROWD: Mexico!

TRUMP: Not even a doubt, OK?


SHARPTON: Let me bring back my panel, Liz Plank, Jonathan Alter and Amy

Amy, will rank-and-file Republican voters care what leaders like Paul Ryan
and the Bushes think about Trump?

HOLMES: They care what they think about Trump and there, of course, is a
lot of division among GOP voters, particularly Republican women who, you
know, about 50 percent disapprove of Donald Trump. They don`t like his
remarks about women.

SHARPTON: Of Republican women.

HOLMES: Of Republican women, yes. Yes, you`re seeing a lot of disarray on
the GOP side. And that ticket in Cleveland is going to be hot, but maybe
not for the right reasons. Donald Trump has a lot of work to do to gain
ground with conservatives, particularly Republican women, who are still
very skeptical and anxious about a Donald Trump nomination.

SHARPTON: Liz, Trump is saying he`s thinking now about a VP pick. Listen
to this.


TRUMP: I will say that I probably will go the political route. I have the
business, let`s call them talents, and I think I`ll probably go the
political route, somebody that can help me with legislation and somebody
that can help me get things passed, and somebody that`s been friends with
the senators and the congressmen – so we don`t have to go the – so we
don`t have to go the executive order route as much as Obama did.


SHARPTON: What kind of VP choice could he come up with that would balance
him out, and who would agree to be on the ticket that could do it?

PLANK: I think that is really the question because even the first few
names that he has put out, those people have already said that they would
rule it out. So I think that`s going to be his issue. And you know, when
I went to CPAC earlier this year, I talked to conservatives and this before
Donald Trump was even the nominee. I mean, it was clear that he may be the
nominee. And people just kept cringing at the idea that he would even be
the nominee. And I said, OK, would you vote for Hillary Clinton, then?
And even conservatives were kind of still – they still mostly said Trump.
But the fact that they would even consider potentially voting for Hillary
who`s the epitome of left-wing progressive politics, to me really signals
his inability to unite the party.

SHARPTON: Jonathan, let me pick up on that because “Politico” is reporting
that the Clinton fund-raisers have been contacting Bush family donors in
recent days telling them she`s better represents their values than Donald
Trump does. How many Republicans for Hillary do you think there are?

ALTER: I think there are going to be quite a number. And the donors are
going to help her greatly outspend Trump because he`s not liquid. His
fortune`s not liquid. I don`t think a large number of people are going to
give him a lot of money. He`s been running claiming, you know, I don`t
they`d your money. Now he`s turned around and hired a finance chair. But
I think he`s going to have a hard time raising really big bucks. He is a
master of the media. So he will get a lot of free media.

To me the real challenge for Republican voters, whether, you know, they`re
going to leave him or stick with him, is they have to ask themselves, do
people change? In other words, is character destiny? We know who this guy
is. And if he starts, like, making nice in the next six weeks before the
convention, are people really going to buy that? Are they really going to
go, oh, he`s acting nice now. He is acting like a different Donald Trump.
This is the guy who will be president. No. The one we know and we have
known for a long time is the guy who will be president. And if you
believe, based on his record as I do that he`s a con man, if you look at
his record, you can`t both believe he is a con man and support him. That`s
not patriotic.

SHARPTON: But can Trump, Amy, change his tone? Because Priebus seems to
feel he can. Can he? Can he change his tone?

HOLMES: I don`t know. Ask Melania. She has been asking him to change his
tone for a couple of months now. You remember they floated the trial
balloon that Donald Trump was going to sound more presidential. Then he
went back to lying Ted. The problem for Republican voters who may, you
know, Hillary is going to try to pitch, you know, to sort of cross the
aisle and vote for her is they have seen her character as well and they
don`t trust her either. So if anything, I think Republicans who are
divided on this will actually stay home. They are not going to be giving
their votes to Hillary.

SHARPTON: Then let me go here, then, Liz. When you look at – NBC has a
battleground map. And it shows Clinton starting with a huge advantage,
huge, huge advantage in the Electoral College and leading in most of the
toss-up states. How could Trump close this gap?

PLANK: Yes, I mean, to Amy`s point, Hillary also is not an unfavorable
candidate. Actually, we haven`t seen two candidates with such high
unfavorability in a long time.

HOLMES: And both are households name and well-known names.

PLANK: That`s the thing, we know them.

ALTER: Somebody could come right up.

SHARPTON: All right. Well, Jonathan, you`re a man in the know. What is
driving Paul Ryan`s resistance to Trump?

ALTER: You know, they don`t share any political values. It`s really a
problem. Paul Ryan is an ardent free trader. Donald Trump is a
protectionist. Paul Ryan wants some compromise on immigration. Obviously
Donald Trump doesn`t. And I think Paul Ryan, who has – what everyone
thinks of his politics – he has a disposition that is fine for leadership
understands that temperamentally Donald Trump is not suited to the American
presidency, that this kind of taunting that Trump does is likely to cause
us huge problems abroad, huge problems with the stock market, his
unpredictability is not good. We`ve been a stable nation. And I think he
understands, as really an awful lot of people do at this point, that Trump
would be a disaster as president.

HOLMES: Hold on.

ALTER: So he`s in a trap.

HOLMES: Remember that Paul Ryan said that he`s not ready, which means that
he could possibly get ready.

SHARPTON: In six weeks?

ALTER: Of course he could.

SHARPTON: We heard one senator said this week about a third party. Are we
going to keep hearing third party?

HOLMES: Senator Ben Sasse from Nebraska.

SHARPTON: It`s very difficult now to get a third party on the ballot.

HOLMES: So there might be grumblings about this, but for Republican office
holders who are loyal to the GOP, there`s no way that they want to start a
third party. The last time we saw a successful third party was Ross Perot
in 1992 and it put a Clinton in the White House.

SHARPTON: And if we see one for you –

HOLMES: We`ll see our second Clinton in the White House is there is the
other third party candidate.

SHARPTON: Liz Plank, Jonathan Alter, Amy Holmes, thank you for your time.
Have a wonderful mother`s day.

HOLMES: Thank you, Reverend. You too.

ALTER: Thanks, Rev. You too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After the break, comedian Larry Wilmore sits down since
his first interview since the “n” word controversy.


SHARPTON: We turn now to a new controversy over an old word, the “n” word.
It`s a divisive issue. And I should note in order to have a frank
discussion, we`ll be playing several uncensored sound bites that include
the word in which some might find offensive as I do.

Last week comedian Larry Wilmore hosted President Obama`s final White House
correspondents` dinner. He ended his set by noting the historic nature of
being the first black president, and he used the term he says he knew would
trigger criticism.


WILMORE: Words alone do me no justice. So, Mr. President, if I`m going to
keep it 100, you Barry, you did it, my nigga. You did it.


SHARPTON: Of course, it was controversial. Generating a lot of headlines,
I was in attendance that night, and I criticized Wilmore`s use of the
words. Two nights later on his comedy central show, Wilmore tried to draw
a distinction between what he said and a racial slur.


WILMORE: Nigger is what white people use to denigrate, demean and
dehumanize black people, and nigga is a term of endearment some black use
between each other to take back that power.


SHARPTON: Some have pointed out that President Obama himself used the “n”
word in an interview last year. For full context, here`s what he said.


OBAMA: Racism, we are not cured of.


OBAMA: And it`s not just a matter of it for the being polite to say nigger
in public. That`s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not.
It`s not just a matter of overt discrimination. We have – societies
don`t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300
years prior.


SHARPTON: The president wasn`t defending the word, and he wasn`t using it
to refer to any specific person.

No doubt this is a difficult topic. Raising issues of race and rhetoric in
the age of Obama.


Joining me now is Larry Wilmore, host of “the Nightly Show” on comedy

First of all, thank you for being here.

WILMORE: Reverend Al, it is my pleasure. Thank you very much.

SHARPTON: Let me say, (INAUDIBLE). You and I have respect for each other,
know each other, we can disagree without being disagreeable.

WILMORE: Absolutely. I have respected you for many years. You have stood
up for too many good causes, Reverend.

SHARPTON: And then I respect you. We disagree on the term of the “n”
word. Tell me why you did it. You knew it was going to cause controversy.
You knew people like me were going to say that`s inexcusable.

WILMORE: Yes, I know. Slap my hand, Reverend.

Well, to me it was at the point where I wanted to make a statement more
than a joke. I didn`t view that portion as a joke. And I really wanted to
explain the historical implications of the Obama presidency from my point
of view. I`m the same age as the president. We graduated from high school
at the same time. And a lot of people don`t have awareness of how racism
exists to the people who are – it is being affected by. They just see
things like the civil rights act, you know, slavery, and events like that.
But they don`t have the experience of it, reverend. That`s why I wanted to
point out that in my time, I experienced a black man not being able to be
the quarterback of a football team.

You know, people thought there was a problem with that. And to see this
man as leader of the free world meant something that worlds couldn`t put
into justice. And when I think about the hundreds of hundreds of years of
a particular word being used against us to take away our identity and now
to turn that around on its head, something that`s normally done in private,
I acknowledge, and to make it public, I thought was, you know, a statement.

SHARPTON: But you do understand that no other group in this country turns
around the words that degrade them.

WILMORE: Well, yes.

SHARPTON: I think the problem I have is if we said that about any other
ethnic group, they don`t take the power out of a word that is offensive to
them, so why is it our responsibility to do that?

WILMORE: I don`t know if it`s our responsibility. I don`t know if any
other group has been enslaved like we were either, has had the particular
experience that we`ve had in America. And not only that –


WILMORE: – but there is the Jim Crow laws that were done against blacks.
You can still find in deeds where it`s against the law or against a certain
deed to sell to a black person.

WILMORE: Which is all the more reason why I don`t want to see us –


SHARPTON: – take the power out of something that was structured to
degrade us. That`s all I`m saying.


SHARPTON: And I`m seven years older. I`m you and Obama`s generation.
This is not generational because you have young students that turned out at
university of Missouri and other places who didn`t want to be called the

WILMORE: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: And this is a debate in the community. It`s not about right or
wrong. It`s about trying to figure this whole thing out together.

WILMORE: Sure absolutely right. And there are different approaches. Many
don`t want to hear the word at all. I don`t care what context it`s in, and
I completely respect that. I`m a satirist and I`ve used it in many
different ways. One of the bits that I did at “the Daily Show” with Jon
Stewart when I was with John Oliver, there was a city councilman who wanted
to ban the word. And we did a whole satirical take on that. And it was
very impoliticly correct, but that was another way to use it in a way that
expose some truth underneath it, you know. So as artists, we used words
that other people would never use and find dangerous but it is part of what
we`re doing in our art.

SHARPTON: And you also said something in an interview that got to me when
you said that you heard some policemen when you were younger use the word.

WILMORE: Sure. Yes.

SHARPTON: And you know, people see you, you`re successful in TV.

WILMORE: I know.

SHARPTON: Tell us about that.

WILMORE: And Reverend, my father worked in law enforcement, too. So they
had – there was something going on next door, and the police were, like,
banging on the back door. And it sounded like they opened it. I was maybe
six or seven. And they said, “freeze, nigga, dead.” I apologize for using
the word, but that`s what they said, you know. And we were, like –.

And here`s the thing. In that context at that time, as shocking as it was,
it wasn`t that shocking in that time. But it was an indelible mark that it
left on me and my brother. And even then we used it joking. And I know
that`s hard to understand, but we were throwing back in each other. Maybe
we were trying to take the pain off of it or whatever. But that to me, I
heard power telling us that we were nothing in that moment. And think
about a child hearing a word like that.

You know, I`ve been called the word growing up and that type of thing, you
know, by stupid people and that sort of thing, but that particular
instance, I think it hit me in a way that it never quite did before, I
should say after.

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you, as you look at race in America and we deal
with all of these issues, given the reaction, given the discussion this
week, would you do it again? Would you use that word in that setting


WILMORE: Well, it`s funny. I always hate to use a time machine scenario.
You know, I think it`s more – for me, I feel it`s more instructive to deal
with the humanity of where we are now in this moment and what do we do in
the now? What`s the conversation that we get to have because of it, you
know? I think because it was his last year was the significant – the
inciting incident for me, you know. In any other year, I certainly
wouldn`t have done it. There was something about summing up where we`ve
gone that kind of spoke to me. And it`s hard when you`re talking about
artistic choices what you would have done differently. I mean, you know,
some people pointed out you could have said my brother, sure, I could have
said that. It would have been a different moment, absolutely.

SHARPTON: And I looked at it the same way differently because I said this
is his last year, and I didn`t want the last word, walking off being called
the “n” word. That`s how I looked at it.

WILMORE: Yes, I completely understand that. And it`s funny because I felt
like at that point, I was making a statement rather than –

SHARPTON: You made a statement.

WILMORE: I know, I know. And by the way, Reverend, I`m prepared to live
with the consequences of it. I understand that. And I have to say that
the president was very gracious and very kind in his statements, you know.

SHARPTON: Yes, he was.

WILMORE: And I acknowledge that.

SHARPTON: I want to get off just that part for a minute because I think
everybody understands your views and mine. One thing I will say before we
get off is you told a very funny joke about my hairstyle.

WILMORE: Yes, sir.

SHARPTON: How come the only people that get on my hair are people that are
bald? But anyway –

WILMORE: Nice. Burn!

SHARPTON: I had to get that.

WILMORE: You had to go there. No, that`s very good.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Straight ahead, more of Al Sharpton`s exclusive
interview with Larry Wilmore.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome back. Now more of Al Sharpton`s exclusive
interview with comedian Larry Wilmore.


SHARPTON: Donald Trump says, who you also –


SHARPTON: – did a lot of jokes on.


SHARPTON: That he`s going to get a lot of black votes.

WILMORE: Oh, stop it.

SHARPTON: Black people love him. Your reaction.

WILMORE: Maybe from people named “the blacks,” but not from actual black
people. But it`s interesting, reverend. I had some blacks who my show who
said they want to support Trump. And I don`t understand where that comes
from. But I think for some of them, he represents this brash figure who
isn`t afraid of people, and that`s, like, their connection to him or
something. And I don`t get that.

SHARPTON: That`s what I want to ask you, I guess. What drives his, in
your opinion, someone that`s entertainment, obviously successful, is it the
celebrity driving the feelings of a lot of people?


SHARPTON: That didn`t have a way of expressing themselves? I mean, what
do you think from a nonpolitician –


SHARPTON: – is driving this Trump kind of energy?

WILMORE: Sure. I believe that Trump represents what I call the upper
crass, you know. And it`s this person who speaks only from his id, nothing
is thoughtful, and it`s all reactions to things that is – and it`s a very
shallow conversation. And he is the leader of the upper crass movement.
SHARPTON: Upper crass.

WILMORE: And a lot of movement that don`t care to have a thoughtful
conversation. Look how long it takes Obama just to talk about what he had
for breakfast, for goodness sakes. I mean, everything is so thoughtful for
him, you know. I had – but Trump, everything is just spit out. It`s not
thoughtful. He always has to backtrack, ban all Muslims, Mexicans,
rapists. But he appeals to people`s visceral reactions and how they feel
on the surface about things. And it`s not thought through. And I think a
lot of it is reaction to these past eight years, you know. I think people
are tired of liberalism. Let`s say liberalism in a way that they haven`t
been tired before. It`s like fine, OK, gay people, you got married. Fine,
do we have to bake those cakes anymore. Fine, all right, black lives
matter. Whatever. Can we move on? I don`t care about the bathrooms.
Let`s just move on. Can we make America great again, please? And I think
he just appeals to that basic level.

SHARPTON: Do you fear – because you do a lot on your show – I`ve done
your show. I`ve watched your show.

WILMORE: Yes, thank you very much. You were great.

SHARPTON: And I appreciate you coming doing ours this morning. But do you
fear where we may have an emotional reaction on all sides when we see for
the first time in American history a white succeed a black president?
We`ve never been here before, Larry.

WILMORE: I know.

SHARPTON: We`re about seven months away from we don`t know –

WILMORE: I know.

SHARPTON: – how we all are going to feel.

WILMORE: I don`t know if America`s ready for a white president. I really
don`t know, reverend al. I`m not sure. I agree with you. I wanted to go
black to black, thanks, Ben Carson, but it didn`t happen. You know, part
of what gets me, too, Reverend, I have to share this with you because you
would appreciate this is this is a man who spent a lot of his time in
capital and resources to trying to illegitimize, I`m making up a word, this
black man in the presidency saying –.

SHARPTON: The birther movement.

WILMORE: Yes, exactly. And he spends so much time and then America, a
large portion of America turns out and embraces this man as the hope to
save America. I find that highly offensive.

SHARPTON: Do you, as we move forward, though, into the next presidency.


SHARPTON: How will that impact you as an artist?

WILMORE: It`s so sad. Trump being president is fantastic for my show.
It`s a very selfish thing, but it`s horrible for America. Actually, no
matter who is president, I think we`ll have plenty of comedy material. I
mean, to have the first gentleman, Bill Clinton, in the White House would
have fantastic for comedy also, you know. I mean, think about that, you
know? But yes, unfortunately Trump, as great as it is for me, I don`t know
how great it is for everyone else, but we`ll see, you know.

SHARPTON: Well, let me say, I`m very happy you came and did it. And I
think that we`ll have to agree, I hope it`s instructive that we can have a
conversation and still get along and maybe America needs to do this more.

WILMORE: Always. That would be awesome.

SHARPTON: All right.

WILMORE: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: So I`m going to keep it 100, my brother.

WILMORE: Thank you. Thank you.

SHARPTON: Larry Wilmore, thanks for your time.

WILMORE: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

WILMORE: Thank you, sir.


SHARPTON: That does it for me. I would like to hear what you folks at
home think about these kinds of issues. Keep the conversation going
online. Like us at facebook.com/politicsnation and follow us on twitter
@politicsnation. We may not agree, but it`s better to talk about our
differences than pretend they don`t exist.

Happy mother`s day. I`ll see you back here next Sunday.


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