I’m a huge nerd, and I’ve been watching Hardball with Chris Matthews since 1999. It’s not always a smoothly produced show, and there were times in the past when Chris Matthews seemed drunk, but — like The McLaughlin Group — it’s one of those shows that has influenced my generation.
Over the years, I’ve come to know a lot of journalists because Chris Matthews and his team showcase diverse voices. One of those voices, April Ryan, has always stood out to me. She’s the White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks. Ms. Ryan is terrific and always has something insightful to say about politics.
Our president, Donald Trump, is also a fan of Ms. Ryan. Just yesterday, before warning her not to ask a tough question at a press conference, he told her that he enjoys watching her on television.
Anyway, Ms. Ryan asked the president if he planned to include the Congressional Black Caucus in his efforts to ‘clean up the inner city.’ She used the acronym CBC, and it was pretty clear that — like Gary Johnson and Aleppo — Trump didn’t know what she was talking about.
Once he started tracking, though, he asked Ms. Ryan if the members of the Congressional Black Caucus were friends of hers and if she could set up the meeting.
And a collective groan was heard ’round the world.
My heart sank when I saw how the disparity of power played out between the president and April Ryan. And it breaks my heart further that she can’t directly call out the president for using racist and sexist language. Ms. Ryan has to rely on other white journalists to have her back and move the conversation forward.
It’s just appalling and shameful. And, while April Ryan doesn’t need anybody feeling sorry for her, I’m embarrassed that Trump can’t do better by a professional woman who has earned her right to ask a question.
And the exchange reminded me why, during African-American History Month and beyond, we need efforts like #BlackBlogsMatter. Trump isn’t the only person in power — running complex organizations — who thinks that all black people know one another. And he’s not the first civil servant to believe he’s a king and women are there to serve him, either.
So if you haven’t been on Twitter in the month of February to check out the hashtag #blackblogsmatter, it’s not too late. And contribute your voices, too. Because when April Ryan is disrespected in such a ridiculous and offensive way, we’re all affected.
The only good news is that I now get to see Ms. Ryan on TV a little more, not just on Hardball.