One of the greatest basketball players of all time air-balled a layup of a question ahead of the second Democratic debate in Detroit on Tuesday night. Charles Barkley, who is not known for shying away from any kind of attention or controversy just so happened to bump into a handful of camera-in-hand reporters in the spin room which, of course, was populated by journalists.
“Do I think he’s a racist?” Barkley asked while clearly stalling before finally settling on this gem of an answer: “I’m leery of calling people racist. He said some things that could be construed as racist.”
I’ll just let that response marinate while we review just the past two weeks, when Trump has amplified his racist rhetoric in part with a familiar racist refrain of telling four Congresswomen of color who’ve been critical of him to “go back” to where they came from. Most recently, Trump executed a series of calculated race-baiting attacks on prominent Black leaders in an obvious effort to divide the African American voters as the 2020 election nears. In fact, Trump has a lengthy, documented history of being very racist, especially toward Black people, who have long warned of his racism.
Barkley apparently missed these recent weeks — and those past decades. But he apparently wasn’t oblivious to Trump’s racism just last year when he told CNN he thought that the president “encouraged” racism.
“The situation of President Trump is a total overreaction and I feel bad because you see anti-Semitism, racism. People feel emboldened to do things and say things now,” Barkley said in the interview that aired in March 2018. “He definitely encourages it. …I think he panders to his base.”
If Barkley saw that back then, what’s so different now?
Aside from his refusal to call Trump a racist, the basketball hall of fame power forward was pretty spot on with his other political analysis in the spin room.
Continuing, Barkley said some things the president has said were “wrong and flagrant” and that “on white nationalism, he could do a much better job.”
After saying his preferred Democratic candidates were Castro and South bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg — who has his own allegations of racism to deal with — Barkley expressed concern over all politicians, who he said “take black folks for granted.” The former Republican also criticized how many candidates were on the crowded debate stages, saying that those polling lower, like Castro, don’t get much of an opportunity to gain any “traction” because frontrunners end up being given deference by moderators.
The full video follows below.