CNN Becomes First Cable News Network to Air Ronald Reagan’s Racist Comment Calling African Diplomats ‘Monkeys’
On Wednesday afternoon, CNN became the first cable news network to air former President Ronald Reagan making racist remarks — in which he called African diplomats “monkeys” — since the tape was released on Tuesday.
During Wednesday’s edition of CNN Newsroom, anchor Brooke Baldwin played tape of the remarks in advance of an interview with the man behind the tape’s release, former Nixon Presidential Library director Tim Naftali.
Baldwin began her introduction by drawing a parallel between Reagan and President Donald Trump.
“On the heels of President Trump using disparaging imagery to describe African nations, new tapes have just been released by the National Archives that reveal similar language used by the late President Ronald Reagan,” Baldwin said.
“So, let me take it back to 1971, and it was Reagan, who was by the way the governor of California at the time, was on the phone with then-President Richard Nixon, so during this conversation, Reagan referred to leaders of African nations as ‘monkeys’, and then President Nixon gets in his own dig, Baldwin said.
“Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did,” Reagan said in the brief recording.
“Yeah,” Nixon agreed.
“To see those, those monkeys from those African countries — damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes!” Reagan said.
Baldwin then interviewed Naftali, who explained how it was that he resurfaced the tape, which was originally redacted to protect Reagan’s “privacy,” which no longer applied following his death.
Naftali said he had already been aware of a racist conversation between Nixon and someone else, and requested the tape when he became aware of a restoration effort by the National Archives.
Asked what he thought the tape would do to Reagan’s legacy, Naftali said he would leave that to others, but said “What I’m worried about is the poison of racism shaping American policy.”
Until Wednesday afternoon, the Reagan tape had only been aired on a handful of local television programs.
Watch the clip above, via CNN.
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