During Tuesday’s broadcast of CNN’s New Day, Donald Trump surrogate Pastor Mark Burns apologized for sending out a tweet of a cartoon showing Hillary Clinton in blackface. He also acknowledged that a retweet he posted showing a photo supposedly of Bill and Hillary Clinton, with Hillary in blackface, was probably fake after being pushed by host Alisyn Camerota. While saying he was sorry for not having all of the correct information, the tweet remains on his timeline as of this publication.
Since bringing on campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and Breitbart’s Steve Bannon as campaign CEO, Trump has ham-fistedly tried to engage in black outreach. What this has essentially consisted of is Trump going in front of all-white audiences and speaking about minorities in a condescending and patronizing tone, asking what the hell do they have to lose by voting for him because their lives are terrible anyway. Amazingly, this hasn’t worked to turn around Trump’s rock-bottom poll numbers with African-Americans, as a new PPP poll shows his favorability rating with black voters to be at zero percent.
Trump has also dispatched a number of black surrogates to spread his message on cable news, including Burns, a prosperity gospel televangelist who has latched himself to Trump in the hopes of expanding his reach. Prior to tweeting out the cartoon, Burns gained notice for delivering the benediction at the Republican National Convention. Since then, he’s been used to appeal to African-Americans, to middling results.
In his interview with Camerota, he said that he wanted to apologize to anyone he may have hurt or offended with the cartoon tweet, but he stood by his message, which was the “Democrat Party has been using the black vote.” In response to Camerota’s question regarding whether or not he understood how making inflammatory and offensive remarks undermined substantive statements he was trying to make, Burns mostly shrugged, saying if he could do it again he’d probably go another route.
Eventually, the New Day host moved onto another tweet that Burns posted. This one, unlike the cartoon, was still sitting on his timeline during the interview and hours later. It showed a picture of a youngish man dressed as a hillbilly standing next to a woman in blackface, purporting to be of the Clintons years ago. Now, this is something Burns railed about in an interview on Monday with MSNBC’s Kristen Welker, claiming it was true then. However, Camerota noted that this had debunked years back, specifically because Republicans had tried to use it before.
From CNN’s transcript:
CAMEROTA: And Pastor, I know that you say that you want to just deal with the issues and substance yet, here again, here is another example. You retweeted this photograph. This is allegedly — it claims to be of Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton in blackface. This is not true. This has been disproven and debunked time and again. This has surfaced in previous presidential races, so why share it?
BURNS: Well, obviously, you know, I think in reference to that particular post, of course, I didn’t have the correct information knowing that it wasn’t Bill Clinton and I apologize for that, as well, for posting incorrect information.
Again, I think that’s what the true message of grace is. That once you discover new information you are quickly to change your opinion and get back on the right path. And that’s what I’m doing right now to the whole world, is to say listen, in my sincere heart of hearts, my job as a — as a pastor is to draw people together, not push them away.
And once I began to discover how it was pulling people apart, it is completely contrary to the message of unity that I’ve been declaring around the world, speaking at Mr. Trump’s rallies around this country.
One, you’ve got to be fucking kidding, right? Burns wants to be patted on the back for acknowledging that he posted “incorrect information” because that shows “what the true message of grace is”? Seriously? Also, IT IS STILL UP ON HIS TIMELINE! He hasn’t acknowledged shit!
— Henry Castro (@Henry3Castro) August 29, 2016
After Burns said we need to stop focusing on the things that divide us, Camerota asked him how exactly he was helping do that by engaging in this mudslinging and name-calling. She also pointed out that the photo isn’t allegedly fake, it is just flat-out fake.
Once again from the transcript:
CAMEROTA: And, Pastor, I mean, this is the illustration, just exactly what you’re experiencing, that voters in this country are so vexed by, which is everybody says they want to mend the country, they want to deal with substance, they want to deal with issues, they want to heal people. And yet even you fall into the trap of sending out these lightning rod symbols that only divide people. How do you explain it?
BURNS: Well, you know, again, the only way to explain is just to simply say that it was in hindsight a horrible image to use. For me, the blackface wasn’t the focal point of the picture. For me, when I saw it, it was showing how Hillary Clinton and the Democrat Party panders after the black vote.
CAMEROTA: Sure, sure. But I mean even the photo that you retweeted. I understand, and you’ve been articulate about your apology, and I’m sure everyone appreciates that. But I mean, even retweeting that alleged Halloween party photo — how is that bringing the country together?
BURNS: Well again, I think at the time when I did my initial tweet was to reinforce my position as to point out why this particular candidate, Hillary Clinton, is not really good for the African-American community, because the Democrat Party automatically assumes they own the black vote. They own that voting bloc. And because they already know that voting bloc belongs to them, very little change takes place. (inaudible) I do know that the Republican Party in general has not as a whole party reached out to the African-American community like they should have, which is why I’m extremely proud of Mr. Trump and how he is going to be, I believe, without question, the strongest Republican candidate that is declaring to the African-American community that you’re not going to be — I’m not going to leave you where we’ve left you, but we’re going to do whatever (inaudible) that all of us, all Americans, have an economic revival, and that includes the African-American community.
CAMEROTA: And Pastor, I want to be very, very clear. It is not allegedly fake as I just said. It is a fake photo. It has been debunked time and again.
Over on New Day’s rival Morning Joe, the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson railed against Burns, calling him “nuts” and that everything he’s been saying is crazy. He also pointed out that Burns is failing to acknowledge that African-Americans make up a large portion of the elected officials in the Democratic Party, that they are a major chunk of the grassroots of the party and are vital in forming the policies of Democrats as activists and party officials.
Below is video of the segment, courtesy of CNN: