While introducing Donald Trump at a campaign event in Ohio on Wednesday, boxing promoter Don King regaled the crowd at the largely African-American New Spirit Revival Center with a discussion of race. “They told me you’ve got to emulate and imitate the white man, and then you can be successful. So we tried that,” he said, adding: “I told Michael Jackson, I said ‘If you’re poor, you are a poor negro.’ I will use the N-word.” Unsurprisingly, King’s use of the term didn’t sit well with many political pundits, so he addressed the matter on CNN Saturday morning. Or at least he tried.
“I’m going to run out of time in 45 seconds,” CNN’s Michael Smerconish interrupted King towards the end of the segment. “Explain to me what you were trying to say when you dropped the N-word. Because I’ve watched the tape and I’m not getting it.”
Enter King’s attempted explanation:
“The message was this: That if you are black, you’re never going to stop being black, so you understand — I don’t care whether you’re rich, poor or otherwise — you’re going to be black until you die. So you can not alienate… can not assimilate… Black unity comes together as a group, a people, a race, and then coalesces with coalitions. With white, and white and black together, working together… If you go back and listen to the whole speech, you will get that message. I was identifying what it was when I was talking about Michael Jackson in the vernacular of the street.”
“It’s a slip,” King admitted, “but nevertheless they call you that when you turn your back anyway. So what’s all this hoopla? They don’t understand I’m fighting for them!”
In fact, Smerconish’s final question riled King up so much that the Trump supporter kept going until the very end. All the host could do was smile, laugh a bit, and bid King (whose mic was cut by Smerconish’s staff) goodbye.
Then again, he probably shouldn’t have started the segment by asking the former boxing promoter to “promote” Monday’s inaugural presidential debate, which King did with relish.