A few months after former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. entered the 2020 race to become president, executive producer of the popular national syndicated radio program “The Breakfast Club” said that he and the host were discussing with Biden’s campaign about an appearance.
When summer came, it was clear to three presenters, Charlamagne Tha God, Angela Yee and DJ Envy, that Biden would not join them.
“They offered to have a black substitute at the event,” Charlamagne said in an interview earlier this year.
But the reluctance of candidates to appear on the show made Charlamagne feel uncomfortable, he said. For him, speaking directly to black voters was not a priority for Biden, especially since almost every other Democratic candidate was a guest when Biden entered the race last year.
On Friday morning, Biden finally arrived at the event tensely 18 minute interview. Addressing the hosting assignment alone in the segment, which was broadcast on the show’s YouTube channel, Charlamagne asked Biden about the legalization of cannabis and the possibility of having black women as candidates for vice-president.
He also challenged Biden Biden about his history with 1994 crime bill. Biden spoke about his time as a public defender and reminded Charlamagne that he had been authorized by N.A.A.C.P.
Overall, Mr Biden appeared defensive, but had fared well through an interview which was postponed for almost a year.
But at the last minute of the conversation, the candidate who was likely to fail had made a wrong move.
“If you have problems finding out whether you are for me or Trump, then you are not black,” Biden said.
Social media responses are fast and critical. For many black Americans, the comment seemed to confirm what Charlamagne thought when Mr. Biden offered to send a replacement as a substitute: In their view, Democrats who were considered to be too high underestimated black voters, considered them monoliths and simply accepted their support.
Mr. Biden then apologized.
“Black people saved your political life in this year’s base class, they have the things they want from you, and one of them is a black female partner,” Charlamagne, whose name is Lenard Larry McKelvey, told Mr. Biden broadcasts on Friday.
Biden’s campaign declined to comment on the interview, his offer to send a replacement at the event and how long an invitation to appear had been.
Charlamagne had criticized Biden during the campaign, telling CNN in September that he appeared to “suffer from white rights and equal privileges and egos” and that he mistakenly assumed that black voters would support him, no matter what.
Although neither event nor campaign producers will say exactly when Biden approved the performance, Charlamagne, his co-host and event producer said earlier this year that every presidential candidate knows the door is open, and has been at the forefront.
“Everyone is welcome, we already said that for the campaign,” Yee said, “But usually they reach out to us because they understand the importance of the platform.”
“The Breakfast Club” airs every weekday from 6am to 10am East and from 7am to 10am on Saturday using Power 105.1. Before the pandemic, three hosts welcomed guests to their studio in Manhattan to discuss everything from music to celebrity gossip to politics. Many program fans listen to it on the podcast application too.
Interviewees are known to leave if they don’t like the question. Even DJ Envy, the host, never left the event. No one enters the studio or, now, joins video calls with any hosting trio member safe from comments and criticism. And when the host angers the listeners, people go to Twitter, where Charlamagne is called in because of her own mistakes and is homophobic, transphobic, and sexist. comment.
In nearly a decade, this event has created a viral moment with rappers, actors and politicians. Because it has carved out space for serious conversations about politics, it has become an important stop for candidates who are eager to appeal to black voters. After all, at this event Hillary Clinton said that she was bring hot sauce in his bag, the same as Beyonce.
Mrs. Clinton appeared in April 2016, and since then the show has become a campaign stop that is even more important for presidential candidates who want to reach the event, mostly young black listeners and viewers.
The event has eight million monthly listeners at more than 100 national stations and, according to Nielsen’s data, 70 percent of the audience are African-American and 10 percent are Hispanic. The show’s YouTube channel has around four million subscribers. Most listeners and viewers are under 45 years old.
“Morning radio shows, especially for the colored community, are always a big part of how we shape ourselves politically, how we talk about problems, not just political issues, but also cultural issues, and I think ‘The Breakfast Club’ has been carved out a very special niche to be that symbol, “Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, said in an interview in a performance studio after his own performance in February.
Andrew Yang, Julian Castro, Marianne Williamson, and Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris all appeared on the event at least once while running for president, and some of them have returned since then.
“I can’t tell you how many people say I heard about you at Breakfast The Breakfast Club,” said Andrew Yang, describing young supporters who approached him at campaign events across the country. “You rarely feel there is a direct result of any show. I really felt that after I started, there was an impact. “
Charlamagne, Ms. Yee and DJ Envy mastered the long-form podcast style for their radio show before the podcast really took off, and they were proud of their candor and the fact that they asked candidates hard questions about how their policies would affect black people.
“I don’t know too many people who watch the many networks the candidates visit and I think there are many people who seem like we get a lot of information from us,” said DJ Envy. “They believe in us and they believe we will ask questions that affect our community.”
He said he thought part of the appeal for young people was the way the show broke politics. “We play the audio, then talk about it,” he said. “We don’t let it out there for you to guess.”
In a studio interview in February, Charlamagne described the primer as a “dream sales season,” or a time when all candidates would try to attract black voters. He said at the time that Biden’s lack of effort to talk directly with black people worried him.
“Why do we trust Joe Biden? “he asked, tracing aspects of Mr. Biden’s notes, such as the crime bill, which he pressed in their interview. At that time, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was still considered a competitor in 2020. Charlamagne took a critical view of the records of the two men in the race – and noted that both of them had declined the invitation to appear on the show.
“Everything you can accuse Bloomberg, you can accuse Joe Biden,” he said. “You really just sort of pick your poison, so at least choose something that interests you.”
It was a few days before Biden won the primary election in South Carolina, with great support from African-Americans, especially older voters who had become consistent supporters. He then dominated on Super Tuesday. Mr. Bloomberg came out, as everyone did.
Since his appearance at the end of February at “The Breakfast Club,” Ocasio-Cortez has moved from Sanders’ surrogate mother to co-chair the Biden campaign climate change task force.
Maybe he should ask for his advice on other things as well. Specifically, how to get ready for certain high profile radio appearances.
“The beauty of the ‘Breakfast Club’ is that you cannot prepare it, especially for voters like us where authenticity is so important,” Ms Ocasio-Cortez said. “If you try to practice your way in this case, that is the worst possible way to prepare it. Focus yourself, take a deep breath, and dive into it.”
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