tv After Words CSPAN April 7, 2015 8:32pm-8:58pm EDT
>> host: she could cannot go to a restaurant until 1964. if it were not for this act no, we have to stop and celebrate. there was another controversial piece. the very beginning of the bush years there was president bush had decided to write a history. and he said it was about the university of michigan. >> host: affirmative-action. >> guest: yes, he did not want preferential treatment in the admission process. so condoleezza rice at the time national security adviser said to him, there needs to be talk.
>> host: giving black candidates for admission that extra measure. >> guest: and the problem was that someone, i don't know how it happened but someone said she supported president bush. they wanted to make sure that her story was told properly. i will never forget before i came to work that morning and heard it in the news and had to go to a dr.'s appointment, i got a call from the white house press secretary at the time who said, do you said do you want to interview condoleezza rice. i said sure. so we talked and she made it perfectly clear that she supported targets of opportunity that some would consider affirmative-action. she she was against the train of thought that there should not be -- that there should not be preference in admission to university.
>> host: and the specialty media reporter like you get that message to the audience that cares the most. >> guest: and this is the great thing. it reverberates. and now into a bc at the washington post. i'm now the person, they go to person that other media feed off of when there is an issue. >> host: did you really cook assault dinner for bill clinton when he was president? >> guest: i didn't but someone did. >> host: start us from the beginning. late in the clinton administration. was this a was this the time when he was saying, i'm still relevant? the campaign was on for his successor and he was on polishing the car and walking the dog. you were in washington command the white house
everyday. how did you how did you come about inviting the president to do? >> there were a lot of african-american reporters and producers. we sometimes talk about this amongst ourselves. well so-and-so had an otr off the record. well, so-and-so just got one. it was back and forth. so he said -- we started scratching her head and ultimately started talking to mike mccurry. and so bill douglas and his wife wonderful reporter he opened up his beautiful home to allow us to have our dinner. and at the time the pres.
wanted to president wanted to talk about race as well because he wanted more information about our thoughts. the race initiative on the table at that time was kind of floundering. he wanted to get our thoughts. apparently the president like us and wanted to hear what we had to say. we initially started the process. he liked it so much he brought his own pepper sauce. cornbread, collard greens, chairman and you know, he really talk and it. and the black committee food brings you together, the sunday dinners at the church just the anniversaries. food is a very common sort of item to perpetuate
free-flowing conversation, and we had a beautiful time. all black reporters and producers at the white house at the time. he said, look let's bring the president here. not only that he has not had an otr with any of us command that's not fair. we thought what would happen. especially with everything that was hanging overhead, the monica lewinsky scandal. >> host: president clinton by this time had been impeached. >> guest: this was 1999 the summer of 1999. actually, we were surprised. we got a call. and so at the time i was one of the main people who were trying to make this happen. they said there is no way we can get into your house.
so douglas opened up his home. new line thankful for that because we had the best time president clinton talked so much and enjoyed it so much that they had to pull them out of the house. if you are around president clinton he will talk sometimes he will monologue but he we will and he goes you. to have the united states president sitting they're with you so food, chitterlings, i'm sitting right next to this chicken, chicken, potato salad, collard greens are 14. i mean, to have the conversations that you have. >> host: as a reporter what do you get from that? this is not a story you do the next day. >> guest: know, this is off the record.
you want to get in their head to find out what there thinking and wife. he talked to us so much of the things that happened in africa. a hodgepodge of issues. you had to know him a lot better. who he was and what he was thinking. it's a very interesting time >> host: the moment in the obama administration that you get to toward the end of the book of the ones that i think so many americans are acutely aware of the beer summit the trail on martin would look like president obama's son if he had had one. what do you make of president obama's handling of some rather explosive moments under his watch?
>> guest: 1st term many african americans were looking to him as a savior. he a savior. he wanted to make people believe the change was going to happen for the office. he could never reach that level of expectation that he said. people particularly african-americans who were hurting as the recession started were looking for hope and change but understanding he is a black man. give him a chance. first time is the everyone issue, arising problems. and the 2nd news conference that is exactly what he said. second term we have now seen
and african-american pres. who happens president happens to be african-american. first term and was a president who happens to be african-american. he is open and how he regards racial issues. and as president you are presidential overall american. and all america must understand where you come from uncertain issues club particularly when it deals with race issues. i am thankful to hear that because he has brought out an issue that a lot of people were sleeping under the. the issue of police involved shooting killing. right now you have to marry
support for law enforcement in trying to root out the problem. >> host: should have gone to ferguson, missouri? >> guest: that is such a hotbed issue. what we have accomplished if he did? >> host: presidents don't usually go somewhere sensitive unless there is something. >> guest: he said the attorney general they are commanded can't down for a while. but ferguson is a small peace of a bigger issue. people were people were tired. a town that was upside down. it's the american version of apartheid. white rule and black majority. the inversion of the power structure. >> host: the police were largely white. the community was a black. >> guest: and the power structure is different they're, too. majority white.
so i think that the eric garner's michael brown issue israel. if not obama, who. >> host: he did not go. >> guest: he did not go. everything comes to the president. and this is the thing that bothers me. we forget so easily. people are asking him. why not. race has come to every president in that building. i mean,, lbj john f. kennedy abraham lincoln eisenhower all these presidents have dealt with issues of race. >> host: and acted on it.
>> guest: yes. people have yes. people have to understand. where would you ask about race? he is the one who can effectuate change. >> host: bill clinton did he come close to issuing what some african-americans would consider an apology for slavery? >> guest: he wanted to. there was a speech he gave what we covered him in africa. he did not apologize for slavery. he was a back-and-forth fight within the white house i will never forget. you not going to get an apology. i'm not looking for one, but why not. not only the issue of recreation but i think bill clinton was the one i think he was the only one who could have done it. it is the white president who could.
he was the 1st black president. the africans participated in the slave trade. he was he was not going to take on is what america did. barack obama at the time it was not the right time. this president has said to strategically navigate so that he could successfully get a 2nd term. i think bill clinton was the hope of this time, a visitor in the book the president you have accounts from the e-mail crossing out certain words they were close to apology. i just cannot believe it. they were close but it did not have. >> host: april you have covered the white house through this prism but you
are also an american. your mom. not that small anymore. and you come from a strong, close family. do you vote? some reporters don't. how do don't. how do you handle your own personal political beliefs? >> guest: l that you say that. some distinction. so strong in their feelings. i am an objective reporter. we talk about being a woman, the strength of all woman. at the same time a reporter. sometimes that comes off and when it does i do vote. i'm not telling you who i vote for. [laughter]
>> host: i live in the district of columbia where we can register as the party but you vote in primaries as well as general elections. >> guest: i am a registered voter. >> guest: i want to get into just one of the footnote that struck me as a very nice touch to capitalize the word black and the word white. i think that that gives both terms sign of respect. was that. i have black friends and white friends. i am not too -- people want to believe when you talk about black and white is race.
it's about putting out there was really going on. what i really want to impart we need to no what's going on understand what's going on. is not to say you did this. it's it's about us coming together and talking and working this out. it's respect for each side and community. >> host: to the white house press corps as a a whole show the same kind of respect? >> guest: historically we know what happened. seventy years ago. >> host: tell everyone who he is and how he was honored by the white house correspondents association. >> guest: your going to make me cry. seventy years ago there was
a gentleman by the name of harry macarthur a wordsmith a print reporter who took his job seriously and amount of becoming a civil rights person. but he was a reporter at the white house the 1st african-american reporter command he was told by the way correspondents don't come in this. you step on someone's toes. >> host: this was when franklin roosevelt was giving a news conference. >> guest: right. if you step on a white reporters toes will be a riot. ultimately they would not let them come in. the bottom line this happened 70 years ago and it just boggles my mind. we work so closely to one another no space so closely
and to think that where i stand now they cannot let. fast-forward to today and you we will always have a difference of opinion. some might be racial others may be a difference of opinion. i think we're trying to do better. i think that we as a group that's one thing. professionals. some people may harbor some notion. but. but i have had some incidents happen that i question. it's not worth freddie. >> host: april ryan you do something many reporters don't.
at the end at the end of your book you conclude with your explanation of how you have graded the three presidents you have covered and why. i don't want to be a spoiler on how the book turns out. you covered bill clinton george w. bush and barack obama three modern-day presidents who that two times each. none of them for the grade none of them come up with f on race relations but no one comes up with me either. you rate president clinton as the reigning champion of diversity. >> guest: he has had the most confirmed african-american in his
staff, marshals, judges staff next marshals, judges -- not judges, excuse me, barack obama has more in that category. as far as us marshals persons that confirmable position. so when so when i say that they worked hard to do that give him a good idea to make did that because he brought another group of people who are not at the table to table. various administrations will put on massey people to table. you know they were at the table and the start of the process. he began change that trickle down into other administrations. >> host: george w. bush had an african-american secretary of state and national security advisor
and the 2nd african-american secretary of state at a time when the united states was engaged around the world in trouble spots. to see good points with that? >> guest: he gets great points for that. bill clinton said this and he said it last year at this time. george w. bush did have the most diverse republican administration. it it is interesting that it was republican who put his men and women he's in a position where african-american. and it took him to do that. you saw this kind of prominence for african-american landed followed suit in the obama administration with the attorney general. >> host: but that does not calculate president bush's experience after katrina? was that racial?
>> guest: i don't think president bush is being racist with his handling of katrina. >> host: the hurricane that affected so many minorities and lower income people who were hurt by the storm. >> guest: particularly in the 9th ward of new orleans will we saw people begging for help on rooftops even president bill clinton says, i don't think that george bush is racist but his policies did not help elevate people in poverty. we talk about katrina president bush got in trouble for the fact that he was caught up in the states rights issue on katrina. and that is part of down.
but because people felt this franchise to the government and left alone because people died. >> host: barack obama is the 1st probably not the last african-american president will cover but his grade on race relations is not as high in your book is bill clinton's. >> guest: not going to see in action but because he did not come out. there are two different barack obama's 1st term in 2nd term. we see a more african-american president. he's comfortable and his skin now. is not ashamed of it.
first term he had to be strategic. there was a fight within the white house. he was the president who did give the black farmer payout after 17 or 18 years of waiting for that money. he was the president who did that and at the same time was not necessarily i'm going to do it. it took tactics. >> host: are you surprised barack obama did not make a stronger case in his 1st term? >> guest: know. looking back, he had to be who he was. >> host: because the economy was in trouble. >> guest: you had the tea party and other factions. i remember hearing from people within the administration. we also a race and politics will follow this pres., but many of them felt that they had to really walk a fine
line. anything that they did that specifically targeted african-americans favorite hero from certain parties or groups any effort that they tried. >> host: you have been at the white house through a very, very exciting time. thank you thank you for sharing your thoughts and book you with us today. >> guest: thank you. >> you're watching book tv in prime time. every weekend book tv features 48 hours of nonfiction books beginning at eight am eastern on saturday. for for the latest schedule information go to our website, c-span.org. with congress in recess book tv is in prime time.