CNN Hypes ‘Independent Voter’ Who’s Fine with Trump Racism as Long as He Doesn’t Say ‘Literal N-Word’

CNN anchors have been relentlessly promoting a reprehensible quote from an “independent voter” in Michigan who says he won’t care about President Donald Trump‘s racism “Until he says a literal N-word,” — and even then, he says he only “might be pissed” — but Grant Gaither is not your typical Michigan voter.

On at least four occasions Monday, CNN anchors shopped this quote from Gaither to various guests: “I’ll take progress over a few shitty words that are said here and there. The guy says stupid things, but as long as things are going good, I could give two shits. Until he says a literal N-word or something like that. Then yeah, I might be pissed, but that is beyond irrelevant to me.”

Might be pissed. Or might not. Let that sink in.

John Berman asked Michigan Democratic Senator Gary Peters to react to the quote, introducing it by noting “Here in Michigan, there are a lot of those voters, many of them voted for Barack Obama and then voted for Donald Trump, Independent voters in some places,” then identified Gaither as an “independent voter.”

Alisyn Camerota later shopped the quote to Sen. Debbie Stabenow, also a Michigan Democrat, and said “I think that he captures a sentiment that we hear a lot.”

Poppy Harlow read the quote to The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery, and asked “How should all these candidates be thinking about that?”

And Jake Tapper asked Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer “What would your message be” to this voter, whom Tapper says “was initially skeptical of President Trump.”

The heavy implication is that this voter is just your typical white middle-of-the-road Michigan voter, which is, itself, sort of a revolting choice. There’s a substantial population of black voters in the state, perhaps even near the Detroit set from which they asked these questions. There might even be white people in Michigan who aren’t okay with non-literal-n-word racism whose quotes could have been elevated.

But that wouldn’t have made for a very interesting question, so let’s set that aside for the moment.

What CNN explained in the online article that quoted Gaither — but did not disclose on the air — is that Gaither has benefited from the Trump presidency in the narrowest of ways. The article opens by describing how Gaither is raking it in like never before.

“Gaither, who inspects goods like steel and aluminum before they are shipped overseas, is working seven days a week and can barely keep up with the demand for his services,” the article says. Steel and aluminum exports have been propped up by Trump’s tariffs, which have hurt American consumers who aren’t in that narrow field.

Good on CNN for disclosing this in the article, but viewers — and these guests — might have benefited from that disclosure as well. Imagine if MSNBC interviewed an “independent voter” in 2012 who was making a mint selling Obamaphones (which weren’t actually Obamaphones).

And while Berman and others heavily implied that Gaither might have been one of those Obama switchers, the article doesn’t say this, it only says that Gaither described himself as “among the skeptics” of Trump.

But Gaither’s mostly-apolitical social media reveals that he believes that one of the best ways to “piss off” Obama was to “get a job,” which might explain his current “literal n-word” threshold at maybe minding racism or maybe not.

CNN’s failure to properly contextualize Gaither is indefensible, especially since it could have been accomplished in about five seconds, and that failure also undermines the newsworthiness of the quote. At a minimum, CNN should have disclosed on-air what it did in print, and maybe even thought about amplifying a voice that isn’t fine with racism up to — and possibly including — a “literal n-word.”

Watch the clips above, via CNN.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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