Some attendees at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) conference in New Orleans on Friday turned their backs on White House adviser Omarosa Manigault after she repeatedly did not take the bait to answer loaded questions about her personal conversations with President Donald Trump and involvement his administration.
The black journalists turned their backs on Manigault even though she said she disagreed with Trump’s joke about how he did not want police to be “too nice” by putting their hands on top of the heads of “thugs” while throwing them “into the back of a paddy wagon.” Trump’s joke was similar to the one Jerry Seinfeld once made without the subsequent outrage.
Manigault’s inclusion on the panel, which reportedly drew a standing-room only audience, that discussed issues like police brutality caused plenty of controversy before it even started.
According to the New York Post, New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones was scheduled to moderate the panel but pulled out, claiming it “wasn’t simply the addition of Omarosa.”
“It was that she was added at the eleventh hour and it was unclear whether we would be able to discuss substantive issues regarding the administration and its policing policies,” she told the Post. “Also, the panel was very disorganized, and basic things like format were not clear.”
An unnamed “source” told the outlet that a majority of black journalists attending the convention “don’t want her involved” and “everyone sees it as extremely offensive.”
Bounce TV’s Ed Gordon ended up moderating the panel and had some heated exchanges with Manigault on stage, as both stood up at one point to confront the other. Omarosa wanted the questioner to focus on questions about her family members who were murdered instead of trying to bait her into “disclosing confidential conversations with the president.
“Shame on you,” Manigault reportedly told Gordon at one point. She also reportedly slammed the audience for always assuming the worst about Trump.
When she was pressed and hectored about “why she’d [taken] a job in an administration seen by many in the room as hostile to African Americans,” Manigault reportedly reminded the audience “you don’t walk away from the table.”
“I sit at a table where I am not only the only African-American woman, but the only African-American at all,” she reportedly said. “When you have someone in the room, you don’t beat the hell out of them. You inform them of what’s going on in the community so they can be an advocate. You don’t walk away from the table because if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”
— Colin Campbell (@MrColinCampbell) August 11, 2017
— NBCBLK (@NBCBLK) August 11, 2017
— Suzette Hackney (@suzyscribe) August 11, 2017
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) August 11, 2017
This Omarosa panel at #NABJ17 is a train wreck. More in the audience standing and turning their backs. Others just walking out.
— Sam Sanders (@samsanders) August 11, 2017