tv 2018 Annapolis Book Festival - April Ryan The Presidency in Black and... CSPAN April 29, 2018 3:15am-4:10am EDT
thank the organizers of the and apple this book festival, i'm delighted to introduce urban radio network's correspondent and bureau chief april ryan. [applause] >> she is a political analyst for cnn and an author. her prior work includes at mom's need, mothers raised in black and white and the book we are talking about today, the presidency in black and white. just as an aside april has another book coming out later this year. >> in september. >> we will be talking about that a little bit. >> i have a lot to talk about. i tell it, i tell it. >> we will do some telling in a minute. april ryan has been covering the white house since january 1997, the second term
of the clinton administration, she covered him, george w. bush, barack obama, the beginning of the donald trump administration, interviewed first ladies, hillary clinton, laura bush, michelle obama. april is really reporter of color who regularly covers this beat, and she just gets a lot of grief for it. one of the things i did in preparing for this was to go back over the last year and a half, seeing what happened to you. someone has given it to her again. that is not even half of it. >> that is the public stuff, you don't know what is going on behind the scenes. >> >> is sean spicer telling you not to do that. don't shake your head. >> did i shake my head or make a face? >> i don't think i did anything. >> lost my head. >> what happened?
>> i don't know. he is probably watching hey, sean. he likes to talk about me on fox. >> you had a question about the trump administration in terms of perception and trying to give you an answer and you were looking, pressing as reporters do, asking until they get an answer and he wouldn't answer. >> had advice for me and i stopped shaking my head and i asked him within three months of the administration and i asked him, i said something about russia. people think i ask about just black issues. russia must be in the urban agenda area too. i said sean, it was something about changing the image
because early on, they were really having a problem with the image when it came to russia. this new administration, hope and change, they were dogs, i heard they were grown, dogged by russia and so many other issues. i said any president once a winning picture. when you see a president of the united states there's a picture of strength, confidence, command but with all that was happening the winning picture was not there. i asked a simple question about the look. how will you revamp your image? then we got into this thing about you have russia, resting on his salad, and it was very odd. i was like i just looked and i dropped my head.
i didn't shake my head in that moment. it kept going on and on and ultimately it was unbelievable. i believe i am older than he is and have been around longer than he is at the white house but was told to stop shaking my head like a child but that is okay. where is he now? [applause] >> i have to slip in my absolute favorite meme of paul ryan. poor mr. spicer misspoke and made a startling claim, you know where i am going, that hitler did not use gas against his own people. there is this unbelievable moment in the press room. i went back and thought --
what? you could see people -- >> i was in shock. >> you were not the only one. >> this was shocking. >> ashley was ahead of me, her eyebrows telling the story. it was a moment that i had never seen. you do not address one atrocity with that atrocity. the holocaust touched that. you don't touch slavery. so many atrocities people don't understand, they want to re-create, change the narrative, you can't change history, can't change the pain, the death, you can't change the hurt, you can't change the fact that people are saying never again and you -- you can't do that. >> as a coda to the story, mr.
spicer did admit a mistake and did an apology a couple days later. the moment itself will never be forgotten. he did say he was sorry and recognized his misstep and issued a full apology but didn't come for a couple days. have you ever been surprised like this in previous administrations or taken aback as you were recently? >> during the clinton years i was shocked with the monaco situation. i'm still journaling as a reporter but as a human i said he couldn't do that. his daughter is around that age. i was shocked.
during the iraq war, i remember the day it started i was sitting in karen hughes's office and karen hughes was president bush's special assistant and advisor to the pres. and i knew something had happened, she got a call and i was nervous, i was in shock, nervous as a human being. as a report i will do my job but i understand the magnitude of what was happening, something was going on. those were moments the kind of shocked me. during the obama years, what really shocked me, this was on
the racial note, i am not one of those people who cried the night he was elected. i was one of the people who marked history in shock because i never thought it would happen but what shocked me was the disdain for this president. the night he was elected i happened to be at the white house, many people were in grant park and other places. i was in the best place ever. spontaneous crowds were erupting in front of the white house, kids from georgetown, george washington, howard, running through the streets, the bushes were still up because president bush would go to bed at 9:30 but the lights were on at 11:00, that barack obama would be the 44th president of the united states of america and these kids were in the street, black, white, mostly white, thinking they had made a difference, they changed
the tide. i saw this hope in young people, this hope that maybe we are getting something right, that we are the difference. weeks later i am hearing we are going to get him out, one term, we want him to fail. i was shocked by that. i was shocked, history is cyclical. when you have great strides, this is not about politics or policy. great strides racially, there is a pool and an imaginary rubber band that has its boundaries, keep stretching and stretching and it breaks, can't put it back together. i think we stretched it and we are in the post obama era. pres. obama was a moment in this nation with you like it or
not. we have never been post-racial, never ever ever ever. what does that look like. >> a whole new set of people you are following. >> i have a whole set of people following the. i am a lean in. is this good? leaning in. >> a bunch of new people. >> every few years i'm following a bunch of new people, that is not new. >> a bunch of people following who are now saying where did you come from? i have been here 21 years. new people feel i am invalid. here is the thing, the founding
fathers, white men -- made this wonderful thing called the constitution. a whole bunch of stuff in there. one thing in particular i will talk about that amendment that shields me. or the snapchat or anything social media or the internet but the wisdom to understand their need to be checks and balances and the fourth estate. george w. bush, people swearing i was a republican and barack obama. they swore i was a democrat. now -- i am doing my job. later they said i was a republican. i must be doing my job well
because can't figure it out, they want to call me a liberal journalist, call me whatever you want but i will do my job. back to the founding fathers, they had the wisdom to understand it is going to be a group of people who ask questions that hold you accountable to the american public, transparency, the press is evil and we don't want them, because you don't get the information, the back and forth, the transparency during the day. the question and answers, it is not about us but about you giving information. freedom of the press is freedom of information for the republican public. and i am chastised, what is the problem? i have an agenda, don't try it with me because i'm not the
one. [applause] >> i am serious. i'm exercising what our founding fathers set in place. did you not read your civics lesson you your government lesson, you may not have gone to school but guess what, the tide has changed. >> we do you get into it? >> early on. when i was shaking my head. >> never before. and i'm not going to -- >> there was some critical pushback of you which seemed extremely out of place.
we talked about this and the white house press secretary. those who are supporting those who feel i'm disgraceful, race baiter, i want to interview him. no matter what you think of him, and what makes him tick, this or that or the other, that is my job, not my job to hate him or like him. and get to work with these people and there should be an adversarial relationship, i am still what -- i'm working on it. we are so tribal now. and so many friendships have broken up, you are over there and i am over here.
it changed the dynamic and what happened? with that, when we are tribal we have people who dislike donald trump who are actually received death threats. i'm tired of saying it is just me. if i put it out there the atmosphere will change. and the people who think i am against the pres. are threatening me. there are other people who have gotten death threats. it is not just me. we need, the heat needs to be dialed down. my boss came into the white house, it is not just me saying, we are getting death threats. we have got do something.
it comes from the head, the pres. and tonight is a big night for us. the freedom of the press, freedom of the press, press freedom, white house correspondents association dinner, the pres. is not attending. maybe today could be that shift come putting it out in the amateur could be that shift. my life or her life should not be in jeopardy and people need to know what they are saying, words mean something but maybe we can shift the atmosphere. i am a mother of two kids, divorced mother of two kids and i'm doing my job. i'm not backing down. to want to take my life over asking a question that is legitimate? >> are other reporters getting similar threat? >> i know at least one. i don't want to say their name but a friend, they talked about
it. i don't want to put it out for him. >> let's talk about what you have written about in your book, that has to do with how you covered each pres. the questions you have asked. at the end of your book you give the president a report card and on your report card you grade the man they get grades, on different topics that include administration diversity, apology and reparations, domestic outreach, international outreach, jobs and unemployment and they get an overall grade. april does not give anybody in a. >> you want to know what i gave this president so far? >> why don't you tell? >> if i had to give him a grade right now when it came to race relations in this nation he
would get an f. if i had to give him a grade right now. [applause] >> but i am holding out hope, i'm giving him an incomplete because there is time to change. you have kanye west but what about the rest? let's not even go there. he is running for president in 2020, or 2024, he loves donald trump and doesn't want to run against donald trump. and administration to cover. chris kardashian was the first lady's mama, something upstairs, a little more in
chicago. they have pets. this president doesn't have a goldfish. i am telling you, every president has a pet >> start with something small. >> we were looking at pres.s and you gave different pres.s different grades. you give clinton a b plus. >> that is understanding certain things. he should have acted. when he knew better, and it is
unfortunate. and could have done better. and the time, the political atmosphere, those who were for and against in his ear. unemployment has been bad for black america the time we were brought here in ships. two times greater, mainstream american is not miss or conjecture, we have to ask ourselves why and seriously take a hard look, each pres. is dogged by that issue. and bring a folding chair, the first black woman in 1972, on the democratic ticket.
bill clinton, what he did, he brought a lot of african-americans to the table. it wasn't windowdressing. they discussed issues, and the most african-americans, the face of the administration, largest minority face of the administration on all levels, cabinet, top-tier, what have you. the positives, you have more african-americans under bill clinton, home ownership is a key to unlocking a lot of things economically. i am taking care of my dad, and long-term care.
johnny, jill, amy and shanika go to college. you use that home. i'm from baltimore, we have been renters community. homeownership is huge. and homeownership is huge. africa was huge. he put africa in the forefront. that sub-saharan portion of africa. we are trying to figure it out. it is a viable the china has gone in, making infrastructure to take its oil and minerals.
a lot of things on the table, you try to work with trade, there are so many things he tried to do in the race initiative, the race initiative, 20 years ago, william jefferson clinton wanted to heal the racial divide. what are we talking about. taking a knee, how it is unpatriotic, about police involved shootings. it is not about our soldiers, it is not about our flag, not about iran some. we are patriotic people and when you think about this i will digress, dr. king said he wanted to make the comfortable
uncomfortable, but so different. and a nation is grappling with the issue of race. and laws on the books, you have brown versus board, voting rights act, and still have problems. it is not a legislative issue but a heart issue. bill clinton wanted to attack heart on matters of race that we still can't get right but there was something called the lewinsky scandal that got sidetracked but that was huge. looking at that, you can never imagine what will happen down the road, can you? would thought we had the first black president or hillary clinton or bernie sanders would run, who would thought donald trump would be president of the
united states? i used to watch the apprentice just to hear for the love of money. i did. he is putting the ojs out there. now, he should be doing that now. i'm just joking. >> bill clinton got a b plus. >> he had the foresight. and start only that, bill clinton, everybody wanted to call him the first black president, whatever, he had an understanding we were a nation at a certain time that would be majority minority, the nation, right now we're in the moment, the majority of babies born in this nation are a minority and that was 20 years ago and we
are grappling with who should do this and you come -- with stupid stuff. instead of looking at people as people. we can't get this right but he was so concerned about it. that he wanted to meet with the black press and black white house press corps and members of the press corps were black. we want to get off the record with him. and i am shocked about it. we wanted it off the record. many of the mainstream journalists received off the record with the president, go into the oval office and talk
with him and he knows who you are. i run into him in the hallway and say you need to call me by my name and he did. we needed those 1-on-1 like the abcs, major news organizations, he wanted to talk about his race initiative was floundering. we wanted off the record. you want to give us that. we are going to appeal to the senses, what he likes, soul food. it is true and he comes to me all the time. remember the show, the dinner we had? that is why i have a heart attack, that is not why you had your heart attack. i did a jesse jackson impersonation really well but i
can't anymore. when you are around these people you get to know their rhythms or whatever. john kennedy junior's funeral, and it will throw things off the table. we didn't think we were going to have the dinner because so many things were happening. lamonica stuff was heating up and when john kennedy junior came up it was a my gosh and the service was next day. he came to the dinner and we were in shock. we actually got the leader of the free world to sit down and break bread with us, to garlic fried chicken, potato salad, green beans, put it all on one
fork. it was the most amazing night. it really was. there were 10 of us or so breaking bread with the president of the united states talking about issues of race, how to heal the racial divide. it was an amazing night. he was so engaged with bill clinton, it is like a monologue. and go on and on, they had to pull him out, 11 something, you have to go. you are engaged in the conversation about so many topics on race but to this day we are where we are. >> i want to advance to pres.
george w. bush, you gave them an overall grade of b-. that was an interesting grade because you rated him very highly on some things. >> katrina was enough said. people died. enough said. an issue of states rights but people died. he had a heart for race and people didn't see that. i got to know this president very well and i will never forget our conversation, he would tell me things like i'm not pandering to you. people of different backgrounds, brings a texture that is not normally there. a lot of times, i love my colleagues. they are the hardest working people.
we are always on. looking to see what happened overnight on the phone always. when you think about the issues raised in the briefing room, normally what happens is the first two rose lead. the only time there are issues of minority communities or communities they consider specialty media like christian communities, black news, hispanic news, asian community, is not the mainstream in their eyes, but a crescendo moment. the tray vons, katrinas, it is sad. there are issues on the table from every community and it is unfortunate is not heard because there is not texture in the room to represent that. i wish there were more people of color, minorities in that
room. and the year after katrina. and i stood in the briefing room podium and walking to the press office, they were waiting for the press secretary, he is right. . here is another thing. he picked up and bill clinton's baton and ran with it. he did more for africa than bill clinton. the republicans around him, the karl roves and the rest of them felt it wouldn't make a difference because the black community -- come on, that is
sad. it is a hard issue and an economic issue, a health issue. >> what did he do about africa? >> he and bill clinton devised a plan to bring generic drugs into africa, from malaria, transfer of aids, that malaria is terrible in africa and trade. it is all about helping boost the economy. it is a holistic piece. this president really worked in sub-saharan africa and bill clinton helped him.
it within a limousine ride. these things you don't know, nuances you just don't know. another piece, we had a conversation about race. we always talked about race but when john mccain and sarah palin and barack obama and joe biden were running against one another he let me know he saw subtle and overt racism happening in the country. he made me aware he saw it. he followed through with it in letting me know. the person that i knew in that white house you didn't see on tv. he was hammed up for a reason, by a lot of republican ideology
and those around him. he had a heart for it. he had condoleezza rice in his ear all the time and they are close to this day. and she is someone who believed in, she called it targets of opportunity, it is called affirmative action if you want to know. so the day after barack obama was made president of the united states, was elected president of the united states without the electoral college. you have to quantify and qualify nowadays because we saw that with al gore. we didn't know who would be our president. what is this? i have never seen this. and it happened again. within a cycle of 20 some
years. this is how volatile -- how tender things are. we have to really work at nailing these things down. going back to the day after the election. when there's a new occupant in 1600 pennsylvania ave. george w. bush was following tradition, reporters came out into the rose garden, waited for him but i wanted to see his demeanor, the nuances of the story, i wanted to see what he thought about it. i walked over to the french doors, still in the rose garden, i walked over to the side to look into the oval office through the french doors and i saw him very upset, walking, pacing back and forth, people like steve hadley, national security adviser, why
is he so angry? there were two people by me, a friend of mine who worked at the white house and all of a sudden, he peers out the door and he sees me and mind you, he is angry. he sees me as we are waiting for him to announce the change in history on many levels. he sees me and he does this. the tension in the room immediately breaks. steve hadley, who did he look out the window, that is april. and not only that, george w. bush intrinsically knew that barack obama had an uphill battle, number one, being the next president but 2, being a black man, the first black man in the job. he left him alone. he did not go after him.
for better or for worse during that eight your pure go, he let him run the ship. >> i will jump to barack obama. you gave him a b plus. >> i gave him a b plus. you got to read the book to understand. no matter what you think of a pres.. i'm not going to say that. times have changed. i have got to change that one. the three pres.s i have covered i can say this, who had governance, they have done the best that they know how. this president -- we are still learning him and how he
governs. i cannot say that as of yet. when it comes to barack obama, you have to remember as soon as he came in the tea party rose up. there was immediate opposition to him. he had to strategically walk a fine line the first term to gain a second term. the first term barack obama and second her barack obama were totally different people but what i will tell you is one of the main reasons he has that b plus is the accountability when it comes to issues of policing. when it comes to issues of policing. this is one of the greatest thing, steve jobs was in our lives for a moment. i am serious. people are taking videos. the news is getting out. we have seen walter scott, freddie gray who never should have been taken into custody.
in baton rouge, we have seen what happened in sacramento, we saw a local issue, a man in a police chokehold, saying i can't breathe. but the problem is there is still no justice, no accountability. we have been beating the drum in the black community from the time the slave was brought here, since slavery. it is the truth. the issue in the black community, considered myth and conjecture, now you have the video to prove it. what happens next? is the thing. the reason why he fell into it
by mistake, talking about skip gates, a knee-jerk reaction. he goes home to get to his house and the neighbors call the police on him. >> a professor at harvard. >> the one who tells you your genealogy when you watch on pbs. police come and handcuff him in his own home. he is trying to explain he actually lives there. >> this is my house. >> and the pres. knows him. he was in trouble for that. and then it continued to happen. trayvon was before the second time and we saw the shift.
when he said he could be my son. what did he mean? what do you think he meant? sometimes we are so smart we hurt ourselves. what do you think he meant? barack obama is a black man. now you know who he is but before i don't care. before he became president of the united states, he had the same problem just being black. what happens at starbucks? that is all i am going to say. i am going to starbucks too. >> it is a quarter of. we have time for one or two more questions. if you want to talk to april, i will you take questions from people who appear at the microphone. >> have you enjoyed the conversation so far? [applause] >> i'm pleased to be here
today. >> do you see donald trump's policy is a paradigm shift meaning permanent or drastic change when it comes to press relation and the pres.'s office? >> yes, i do. it is a big shift. this president is showing the next occupant of 1600 pennsylvania ave. how to act with us. not only that, i talked to the ambassador of the eu, the european union in the last couple months and it was all about the issue of fake news. european leaders are very concerned because what happens, this is trickling over there.
once people, the nations, the people of the nation start saying this is fake, they don't trust the press and they don't trust leadership and acted breed anarchy. they are trying to get a handle on it. not only that but it disrupts -- we were founded on certain freedoms. this president on january 20th at 12:01, 2017, took the oath to uphold the constitution, within that is the first amendment. what is happening? he is not fulfilling his oath. there is a dangerous dance we are doing right now with this. i am praying, we have seen how some reporters have gotten hurt. this is not a joke. this is not a joke. i hope i answered your question. >> what strategy would you recommend to increase communication and decrease the partisan divide?
>> call it out. when you call it out you have to bring facts to it. people like to spin and say they want a positive story. i believe in giving a whole story, not two sides anymore because you have a republican president, some leaving office who don't like the old part president or the policies. you have to give that sided his side and go here and there. it is all sides, whatever the issue is about is all sides. we have to give fact, more so now than ever before. it is incumbent on us to be journalists worth our pin and pad and sources. we have got to give you the truth, no fake news here. [applause] >> you say the presidency in
black and white. do you predict in the future it is possible we are fertile for history to repeat itself and see another black or brown person come to the office of the presidency? [laughter] >> i am sad about that. i'm a person with hope. i have so much hope. what i am seeing now, we are so tribal, so divisive, and i feel sorry for the next person who runs for office. this is a whole different way of campaigning. we are seeing gutter politics at its best and we haven't even seen them go for the jugular yet. race is still an issue. looking through the prism of skin color instead of seeing you as a person.
i am afraid we are too far gone from the dynamic of let's try to be one, try to not worry about racism, worry about the issues on the table but race and gender are on the table more so than ever before. i am sad, i pray that i am totally wrong but i don't see in the next election, i don't even see kanye. you can get any kind of person to run for president but i don't think, i don't think, no. not in the next two election cycles. i don't think so. >> in a similar vein, the likelihood of a female president? >> that is on the table.
i am so heartened by people rising up who are activating. it gives us hope. when there's radical activism there is change. it could change the dynamic. me 2 rose up out of pain. women are running for office out of pain, to say no more, i can do this. politics is a weight male-dominated landscape. even when barack obama was president, nancy pelosi said you have to crack the gas ceiling, it is a marble ceiling, it is still there but they are cracking every movement, every female, every woman who is elected, is hope. hillary clinton won the popular
vote. >> it was the electoral college. i pray that we can see people for people. we still worry about people dealing with healthcare that a woman is at the table particularly when dealing with our issues. we are still dealing with that kind of stuff. for every stride there is a drawback. i pray that we can see that happen one day. >> this will be the last question. what does your heart tell you about healing this racial divide? >> what does my heart tell me? take off the journalist had. got to stop talking at each other and find common ground and build on that. we are all people, this country was founded on bringing all
sorts of people here. we love our country, we have a lot of flaws but we love and want to make it better. challenging the system does not mean you are unpatriotic. it means you want to make our country better. it means i am in this boat with you. if we are drowning you are not worried about my color but getting the water out and paddling to safety. and love each other up when we get to safety. you don't care about mike other than but why do you care about it now? if we say we love a higher being and all of what i read in the religions i have viewed it is about treating others the same. where are we now? if we say we espouse a higher power and we have that power in
us, we are doing something different, something is what we have to do, self evaluation. we have to do self evaluation to see am i holding someone down? and this last piece. sen. lankford and tim scott have something once a month on sundays. i forget the name of it. >> sen. james lankford of oklahoma and scott of south carolina. they have something on sunday where they ask people, have you had people of other races for dinner? no, but in your home. that is a big thing. can you come together with another race and have civil conversation? put the facts on the table and if you do that, i have written three books about race and they all come in, people marched
with dr. king and people out there on the front lines now and if we could use our heart instead of this and this it will be better off. i know it is a hard issue, it is compassion, thank you for the question. [applause] >> thank you. thank you. thank you. thank you. >> she is going to sign her book.