A video of an interview Hillary Clinton participated in over the weekend was making the rounds online Monday night, and viewers could be forgiven for confusing what the former secretary of state said at first listen.
She and the interviewer – Recode’s Kara Swisher – were discussing political correctness Friday night at the event in New York City when Clinton was asked what she thought about a quote by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. However, Swisher incorrectly referred to Holder as New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. Clinton quickly corrected Swisher before offering an inappropriate, yet [hopefully] playful, quip:
“I know they all look alike,” Clinton said almost instinctively, perhaps making the viewer think the footage may have been doctored because, of course, what former Democratic presidential nominee who was overwhelmingly supported by Black voters would ever say such a thing; especially in public?
Swisher, seeming to catch on a bit too late to what every last Democrat probably hopes was just an innocent, well-intentioned wisecrack (no matter how tasteless), quickly replied, “No, they don’t,” before she apparently got the joke: “Oh, well done,” she added.
See the snippet below.
It was all quite awkward, and the Twitter fingers of seemingly every single right-wing troll got to typing as soon as they caught wind of it, claiming Democrats would have had a conniption fit if Donald Trump ever spoke those words. Swisher was obviously at fault, coming off as unprepared for the high-profile interview and confusing two Black people who have each played very different roles in government. Maybe Clinton was even clowning Swisher for her apparent ignorance. But the seasoned political veteran should have been savvy enough to know better than to utter those fateful words, joke or not.
To be clear, there are just certain things in a civilized society that you don’t do. To underscore the cultural taboo surrounding that unfortunate phrase, Black Enterprise published a comprehensive list of things white people should never say to Black people, and “they all look like” easily made the cut.
Recode published a transcript from the interview, confirming Clinton’s ill-worded joke that was initially overshadowed by the widespread reports from the same event about the former first lady saying she would “like to be president.”
Democrats — especially the 19 who she just endorsed on Monday — were likely bristling at Clinton’s choice of words, which came at a time when race relations around the country were seemingly at an all-time low, partially (mostly?) because of the man to whom she lost the 2016 presidential election.
There were also some other concerns about Clinton’s joke; namely the fact that she was still trying to live down her 1996 “super predators” comment, which her then-Democratic primary opponent Bernie Sanders said in 2015 was about young Black men who were disproportionately imprisoned because of former President Bill Clinton’s controversial 1994 crime bill. There was also the since-disproven claim that Clinton’s failed 2008 presidential campaign helped perpetuate the false birther movement surrounding Barack Obama that Donald Trump took and ran with.
Considering those questions still hanging over her head, it’s inexplicable why Clinton would decide to blurt out that combination of words to describe two powerful African-American men; even if it was a joke.
See a video of the full interview below and judge for yourself.