GOP state official quits after 'Daily Show' interview. He said what? (+video)(Read article summary)
North Carolina Republican Party official Don Yelton is the latest public figure to learn that fake news shows can get you in just as much trouble as real ones. He resigned after a 'Daily Show' interview this week.
When will politicians learn that fake news shows can get you in just as much trouble as real ones? Maybe even more trouble, since they tend to have much bigger audiences.
North Carolina Republican Party official Don Yelton is the latest public figure to stumble upon this truism. Or more properly, former Republican Party official Don Yelton, as he resigned after his appearance in a controversial segment on Jon Stewartâ€™s â€śDaily Showâ€ť on Wednesday.
Mr. Yelton â€“ who until Thursday was a precinct chairman in North Carolinaâ€™s Buncombe County â€“ talked with â€śDaily Showâ€ť correspondent Aasif Mandvi about a new state law that requires photo identification to vote. Civil rights advocates charge that such laws are intended to suppress minority votes.
Asked if he was a racist, Yelton paused, then said heâ€™d â€śbeen called a bigot before.â€ť
â€śAs a matter of fact, one of my best friends is black,â€ť he added.
Things went downhill from there. Yelton told "The Daily Showâ€ť correspondent that heâ€™d had a caricature of President Obama dressed as a witch doctor sitting on a stump, but that the drawing made fun of the presidentâ€™s â€śwhite half, not his black half.â€ť (Mr. Obamaâ€™s mother was white, his father black.) He complained that blacks could use the N-word, but not whites. Only he didnâ€™t say â€śN-wordâ€ť; he said the word itself.
â€śYou know we can hear you, right?â€ť Mr. Mandvi said in the on-camera interview.
Yelton went on to say that the photo ID law would â€śkick Democrats in the butt.â€ť
â€śIf [the photo ID law] hurts the whites, so be it. If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that want the government to give them everything, so be it,â€ť Yelton said.
The comments went viral after "The Daily Showâ€ť posted a video clip of the interview on Thursday morning. Yelton defended his remarks to a local publication, but the state party itself began to furiously backpedal.
By Thursday evening, Yelton was out. North Carolina GOP chairman Claude Pope said that the comments were â€ścompletely inappropriate and highly offensiveâ€ť and that Yelton was speaking only for himself, not for the party as a whole.
Mr. Pope said that the Buncombe County GOP chairman had told Yelton the party would take steps to remove him if he didnâ€™t resign.
Of course, more experienced operators than Yelton have run afoul of â€śDaily Showâ€ť questioning this month. Two weeks ago, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius appeared on set for an interview with Mr. Stewart himself, and it was â€ścringeworthy,â€ť according to The Daily Beast.
Stewart started off by saying they would have a race. Secretary Sebelius could begin to open the Obamacare sign-up website, and he would start downloading â€śevery movie ever made.â€ť Theyâ€™d see who would be done first.
After that, Sebelius just seemed taken aback by Stewartâ€™s questions. Asked how many people had already signed up for Obamacare, she said, â€śI donâ€™t know.â€ť He kept asking why businesses had received a delay in the mandate that they provide health insurance to employees, while individuals have not received a delay in the mandate that they purchase health insurance.
â€śMaybe sheâ€™s just lying to me,â€ť Stewart said in a monologue near the end of the show.
Stewart has hammered the Obama administration on its rollout of the Affordable Care Act over a number of shows. Thatâ€™s a big problem for the president because "The Daily Showâ€ť reaches just the kind of person that Obamacare needs â€“ generally healthy young people, who donâ€™t cost insurers much money.
Maybe Obama himself should appear on the show to try to swing him over, suggested Washington Post political expert Chris Cillizza earlier this week.
â€śWhat Stewart says matters â€“ a lot,â€ť Mr. Cillizza wrote.