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Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 11/10/2010

Why Kanye West should not have apologized to George W. Bush on the 'Today' show

By Jen Chaney

Kanye West, why did you have to go on "Today" and tell George W. Bush that you're sorry (or at least somewhat regretful) for saying -- during the height of the Hurricane Katrina crisis -- that he didn't care about black people?

As your Twitter account clearly indicates, taping the interview has caused you an immense amount of distress. And as demonstrated by the use of your pre-recorded comments during this morning's "Today" interview with Bush, your words only served as a balm for the former president, who said they were "appreciated" and that his faith allows him to forgive you. Racial tensions: They're all solved now that the West/Bush conflict has been put to rest.

Kanye, in addition to making some killer records, you have said and done some mega-ridiculous things over the years. But the Hurricane Katrina episode? That's actually the one thing that, in my opinion, you should never have to apologize for.

It's not cool to call someone a racist. And, for the record, I don't think George W. Bush is a racist.

But that's also -- as you know better than anyone, Kanye -- not what you said during that NBC telethon that aired on Sept. 2, 2005. What you said was: "George W. Bush doesn't care about black people," a statement that clearly scared the crap out of Mike Myers, upset the then-president and started a whole conversation -- one we're still having -- about whether that was an appropriate statement to make.

As an overall commentary on Bush's character, the sentence you uttered may not be true. But at the time -- in the midst of a week when the entire country watched as residents of a majority African American city died while some key government officials twiddled their thumbs when they weren't patting each other on the back -- it felt true. A lot of people had the exact same thought. But the only person who had the guts and, more important, the total lack of a filter that allowed him to say it? Well, that was you, Kanye.

So I don't think you should regret it or have to engage in any sort of media-orchestrated mea culpa over the whole episode just to give "Today" another opportunity to milk their Bush interview exclusive. I suspect that's what you were trying to convey in your extensive Twitter rants, except that I, like so many, got kinda lost when you brought Michael Jackson into your anti-Matt Lauer argument.

The bottom line, really, is that none of us should be talking about whether George W. Bush got his feelings hurt by something you said more than five years ago. Really, what we should be talking about is how the people of New Orleans are doing now and how our government would respond differently if a crisis of that magnitude reared its devastating head again, as it undoubtedly will.

But those are harder, more nuanced conversations to embark upon, ones that don't fit as tidily into TV interviews or Twitter feeds -- or, frankly, into entertainment blogs like this one.

So in lieu of that, I'll just close by saying, Kanye, it's always wise to consider your words before you speak. Taylor Swift, in her infinite wisdom, explained this pretty clearly in that song she sang about you at the VMAs. But in the Katrina case, don't apologize. You don't have to. Because saying something controversial that captured how a heartbreaking, horrible moment in this country's history genuinely felt? That means never having to say you're sorry.

By Jen Chaney  | November 10, 2010; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrities, TV  | Tags:  Kanye West  
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Comments

'...harder, more nuanced conversations to embark upon, ones that don't fit as tidily into TV interviews or Twitter feeds -- or, frankly, into entertainment blogs like this one....'

Amen.

There is always time to be a gentleman, even in tough times. More gentlemen wouldve helped NOLA; just think of Brees. OMG, he is WHITE! ;P
The biggest tragedy in Katrina was black folks LAGGING on getting the heck out, and that NOLA was already ungovernerable, as always.

Posted by: mloaks | November 10, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Who would give good money out to read the self-justifications of a "foetus in a bottle"?

Here in Germany people are getting ticked off with the Busch for his claim that Schröder hat "cheated" him of his support.
The transparent attempt to use an excuse to invade Iraq, almost any old excuse, was clear to anyone reading the European press. Maybe old bushel britches should have got Condi to read a newspaper to him. Schröder was already in trouble with the electorate for Afghanistan and couldn't afford to alienate any more voters even if he'd wanted to.

Chris Brown in Hamburg

Posted by: chrisbrown12 | November 10, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

try try again:

Who would give good money out to read the self-justifications of a "foetus in a bottle"?

Here in Germany people are getting ticked off with the Busch for his claim that Schröder hat "cheated" him of his support.
The transparent attempt to use an excuse to invade Iraq, almost any old excuse, was clear to anyone reading the European press. Maybe old bushel britches should have got Condi to read a newspaper to him. Schröder was already in trouble with the electorate for Afghanistan and couldn't afford to alienate any more voters even if he'd wanted to.

Chris Brown in Hamburg

Posted by: chrisbrown12 | November 10, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Well put, Jen. I am not a fan of Kanye West's, but I admired him for saying that (though I wished he had actually said it more confidently). Bush is the one that needs to own that situation, not Kanye, who was trying to speak up for the people of New Orleans.

Posted by: kvs71 | November 10, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Well put, Jen. I am not a fan of Kanye West's, but I admired him for saying that (though I wished he had actually said it more confidently). Bush is the one that needs to own that situation, not Kanye, who was trying to speak up for the people of New Orleans.

Posted by: kvs71 | November 10, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

You sound as dopey as Kanye. Never having to say youre sorry only applies to a real gut comment that you feel very strongly about. He did this for publicity and it backfired in his face. His career has suffered and suffered hard before the Taylor Swift shenanigan.

Kanye thought his sales would go thru the roof when he made the comment. Funny thing is when a half black half white President who was raised by whites, sat back and watched the same region drown in oil, no criticism was made of the slow reaction. You liberals are all hypocrits...you only react if it can assist you or your wicked agenda. WTF.

Posted by: Fred23 | November 10, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I did not realize that the world was holding its breath waiting on the sayings of Kanye West. I guess it's just the Washington Post.

Posted by: dcc1968 | November 10, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Another joke, praising Jen for admiration of Kanye illiterate ill spoken words. Like Jen, you love the fact that a black man who butchered the English Language with his rambling dialogue about Bush, you find it admirable. Well, not many college educated blacks found it admirable, we saw another stupid ignorant black person who was inarticulate to the hilt, trying to take a highly badly timed Potshot at the Pres of the US for an increase in album sales.

You know you white liberals love to see black fools at there best. You try to act as though you support us, but naw, you despise us and the more ignorant we act you laud us. Aint that something, remember some of us can see right through you.

Well put, Jen. I am not a fan of Kanye West's, but I admired him for saying that (though I wished he had actually said it more confidently). Bush is the one that needs to own that situation, not Kanye, who was trying to speak up for the people of New Orleans.

Posted by: Fred23 | November 10, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

You sound as dopey as Kanye. Never having to say youre sorry only applies to a real gut comment that you feel very strongly about. He did this for publicity and it backfired in his face. His career has suffered and suffered hard before the Taylor Swift shenanigan.

Kanye thought his sales would go thru the roof when he made the comment. Funny thing is when a half black half white President who was raised by whites, sat back and watched the same region drown in oil, no criticism was made of the slow reaction. You liberals are all hypocrits...you only react if it can assist you or your wicked agenda. WTF. The same white liberal bunch didnt praise Malcolm, Martin or Marcus...yeah X, King and Garvey...but you praise a fool like Kanye. Black people dont forget who your real leaders are!! Dont let white folks pick and choose our leaders. It is all a setup!

Posted by: Fred23 | November 10, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Distraction Alert!!!! A War criminal who approved the torturing of prisoners, lied to the UN to begin a War under false pretenses, couldn't think of one mistake he made during his Presidency complains in his fantastical and delusional memoir that a pop-music star hurt his feelings when he said that the War Criminal didn't care about Black People!??!!?!?

Stop the presses!!!

GW Bush doesn't care about anything except protecting the Bush Crime Family!

Posted by: thebobbob | November 10, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Distraction Alert!!!! A War criminal who approved the torturing of prisoners, lied to the UN to begin a War under false pretenses, couldn't think of one mistake he made during his Presidency complains in his fantastical and delusional memoir that a pop-music star hurt his feelings when he said that the War Criminal didn't care about Black People!??!!?!?

Stop the presses!!!

GW Bush doesn't care about anything except protecting the Bush Crime Family!

Posted by: thebobbob


Millions if not billions of people around the world agree with your comment about the war criminal.

Posted by: yard80197 | November 10, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

"but my lawyer said it was okay!"

Posted by: kvs71 | November 10, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Jen you're a hate-filled partisan bag of human excrement. Kanye's remarks were racist and you reveal yourself to be devoid of human intellectual capability. Shame on the both of you for being such partisan dolts.

Posted by: RBCrook | November 10, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Bush is not Taylor Swift. His behavior/language on more than one occassion, esp. during Katrina, was not just an assault on the poor.

Posted by: lidiworks1 | November 11, 2010 7:26 AM | Report abuse

well put jen... of course if he'd said 'he doesnt care about poor people' people would have just screamed 'class war iz bad' and thrown feces. Kanye's statement had enough truth to it that it stung - or it wouldnt have struck such a nerve at the time - and anyone who's been to nola since and seen what a ghost of it's former self it's become can only wonder what's wrong with a country that cant spend 5b on 'socialist (aka in the interest of the common good)' infrastructure to prevent 200b of damage (remember, the levee repair was at the top of the list of things to do in 2000 when W took office). Then again, if nola had flooded it wasnt really going to hurt W's base was it...

Posted by: quintiliusvarus | November 11, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Right, how dare Kayne West not go along with the little libbies handbook. Why he must be an Oreo, an uncle Tom or any of the other disgusting racist names that the left use in reference to any African American that has the audacity to not agree with them.

Posted by: thebink | November 11, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Wait. Doesn't Bush's daughter work for Today?

Posted by: robobject | November 12, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

The WaPo is so out of touch...no wonder readership has plummeted...nonestly, this is the most irresponsible and ignorant columns ever written. Cheers.

Posted by: MPNangle | November 13, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

5Y: Today Show Sheep Herding
The Today show is infotainment and not news so Matt Lauee was allowed to lead and editorialize both the interview with Kanye West and the interview with the former president. What was said by both men has no news value at all, but the incident does. Here are some things that I have been thinking about.

1. Why did the Today Show invite Kanye on the show the same week as Bush’s book release, was that to boost Kanye’s sales or Bush’s sales?
2. Why did Matt bring up the words regret and apologize, those are leading words inappropriate for an interviewer to use even when interviewing a child who lost a spelling bee?
3. After a life time in public life and 8 years as the leader of the free world, prolific loss of human life during his time of service, not to mention personal struggles with drugs and alcohol, why is an insult by a little respected musician is the most disgusting moment in his presidency; why does he want the public to believe that?
4. After many months of silence, the former president re-emerges in a media mud fest with a rapper of questionable charter and integrity, why does he want the public to see him in that light?
5. Why did Kanye’s PR camp offer him up in this way, who are they auditing public response for?

I have very strong opinions about each of these questions and I will make sure the people I influence understand where I stand on each point, because everything is personal and all marketing is viral.

Posted by: LeeYoungblood | November 14, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

5Y: Today Show Sheep Herding

The Today show is infotainment and not news so Matt Lauer was allowed to lead and editorialize both the interview with Kanye West and the interview with the former president. What was said by both men has no news value at all, but the incident should be of concern to all. Here are some things that I have been thinking about.

1. Why did the Today Show invite Kanye on the show the same week as Bush’s book release, was that to boost Kanye’s sales or Bush’s sales?
2. Why did Matt bring up the words regret and apologize, those are leading words inappropriate for an interviewer to use even when interviewing a child who lost a spelling bee?
3. After a life time in public, 8 years as the leader of the free world, prolific loss of human life during his time of service, not to mention personal struggles with drugs and alcohol, yet an insult by a little respected musician is the most disgusting moment in his presidency; why does he want the public to believe that?
4. After many months of silence, the former president re-emerges in a media mud fest with a rapper of questionable charter and integrity, why does he want the public to see him in that light?
5. Why did Kanye’s PR camp offer him up in this way, who are they auditing public response for?

I have very strong opinions about each of these questions and I will make sure the people I influence understand where I stand on each point, because everything is personal and all marketing is viral.

Posted by: LeeYoungblood | November 14, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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