On MSNBC’s Politics Nation, host Al Sharpton interviewed Trump-endorsed GOP senate candidate in Virginia Corey Stewart on race in America, and the explosive interview got heated as Stewart called Sharpton a “race hustler.”
Obviously, with the events of this weekend, and it being the one year anniversary of Charlottesville, this is where the topic began. Sharpton introduced Stewart — whose extensive ties to racists Mediaite has covered before — by calling him a “darling” of white supremacists.
Sharpton went right for it in his first question. “Do you consider yourself a candidate — the candidate for white nationalists in the state of Virginia?”
“No, of course not, Reverend, and here’s the thing,” Stewart began. “I know you brought me on your show because you want to talk about the one year anniversary of the horrible events in Charlottesville last year. But, you know, I meet with voters every single day, the residents of Virginia, and there’s one thing that is very, very clear and that is people are sick and tired of talking about race all the time, they’re tired of it, they want to move on, the people of Charlottesville want to move on, the people of Virginia want to move on, they have a lot more important issues to talk about than race on a constant basis, which is what we get out of you and the rest of the media on a daily basis.”
The voters want to move on, said the candidate who campaigned on preserving old statues of confederate soldiers. Obviously Stewart was expecting the question and had his rant at the ready, self-contradictions included.
Sharpton replied that it’s not so easy to move one when your life and “safety” are determined by your race. He offers as an example a video of Corey Stewart from one year ago giving a speech, where he favorably cited (to big applause) Confederate heroes and the Confederacy.
“That’s what you said a year ago, that’s you talking, running for governor,” Sharpton pointed out. “Now you say today we want to get past race after you talked about how we should praise and erect people whose only role in history was to uphold slavery and commit treason against the United States.”
“You know, why is it that you on the left are so obsessed with what happened 150 years ago, you know my, I’m running for United States–” said Stewart who in the clip was hailing events of 150 years ago.
“No, no, I’m talking about you last year, I’m not talking about—” interrupted Sharpton.
“You have me on your show so I can I presume, right?” said Stewart in a snotty shitbag tone of voice.
“I’m talking about Corey Stewart running for governor last year–”
“Yeah,” Stewart said derisively.
“–that’s what you said, you went back 150 years ago–”
“Sir, you’re always looking back to the past–” said Stewart.
“I’m talking about what you said–” Sharpton repeated.
“Yeah,” Stewart said derisively.
“Explain to me your statement in light of what you’re saying now,” said Sharpton.
“Reverend, let me just explain this. People don’t care what happened 150 years ago. Historians love this stuff, and I love history, but the end of the day, we need to look at what the problems are are today,” said Stewart, who was talking about the civil war in the clip as part of his campaign which included a major focus on Confederate monuments.
“As long as we continue to divide Americans by race– and you’ve made a career out of dividing people by race, you’ve been a race hustler your entire career,” Stewart spat. “You’ve made a lot of money at it, you haven’t even bothered to pay your taxes, and all you do is divide Americans by race.”
Sharpton told him he didn’t have to defend himself for “standing up for racial justice.”
Sharpton again returned to the original question. “You’re running for Senate now. I’m asking you about what you said a year ago. You can call me whatever name you want, that’s fine. You’re saying that you’re running for Senate, you’re saying that we shouldn’t go back 150 years, you went back 150 years, a year ago. Explain to me your statement.”
Stewart went on to explain his admiration for the rebels in the Civil War from 150 years ago.
Sharpton later argued that you can’t eliminate race from the equation when race affects things that are the issues of the day. He said just calling people names like “race hustler” isn’t an answer.
“I know your temptation, attack Al Sharpton, and you came on his show, you beat up Al Sharpton, you get your base up, I got that,” the MSNBC host said. “But I’m giving you the opportunity to be bigger than that, discuss the issue.”
“Do you believe there is racism left in the country? Do you believe there is any racism at all in the country?” Sharpton asked.
“Of course there is. Of course there is some,” said Stewart.
They each concluded with essentially the same points they started with.
Watch the clip above, courtesy of MSNBC.
[Featured image via screengrab]