BET founder Bob Johnson, despite his consistent support of Hillary Clinton, placed an unequivocal importance on Barack Obama’s election as President during a segment on Wednesday’s "American Morning." "I believe that if Senator Obama leads this country the way he ran the primary, it will become a historic event for African-Americans, probably greater than the Emancipation Proclamation, which was signed in 1863."
This statement, which he made during an interview at the top of the 7 am hour of the CNN program, was a drastic change of tune for the media mogul. Earlier this year, Johnson hinted at Barack Obama’s drug use during a Clinton campaign rally. "Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues -- when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood that I won't say what he was doing, but he said it in his book." CNN contributor (and thinly-veiled Obama supporter) Roland Martin blasted both Johnson and Hillary Clinton for the remarks on "American Morning" itself at the time.
"American Morning" co-host John Roberts interviewed Johnson over his letter to Congressman James Clyburn, encouraging the South Carolina Representative and his peers in the Congressional Black Caucus to "urge Senator Obama to select Senator Hillary Clinton as his vice presidential running mate."
The transcript of the relevant portion of the interview from Wednesday’s "American Morning:"
JOHN ROBERTS: If I can quote from the letter that you sent to Congressman James Clyburn, whom we had on yesterday after he decided to back Barack Obama as a superdelegate, you say, 'I, as a longtime supporter of Senator Clinton and of the Democratic Party, urge you to do everything possible to unify this party to win the presidential election in November. For me and millions of other Democrats, I believe that the most important step that you can take now is to encourage the Congressional Black Caucus to urge Senator Obama to select Senator Hillary Clinton as his vice presidential running mate.' The first question I have, Bob, is does she know that you're doing this?
JOHNSON: Before I answer that question, John, let me first of all, congratulate Senator Obama on this historic victory, and I believe that if Senator Obama leads this country the way he ran the primary, it will become a historic event for African-Americans, probably greater than the Emancipation Proclamation, which was signed in 1863. It's the significance of his election that's so important, and therefore, having him elected in November, not just the Democratic nominee, is absolutely paramount. Now, to your question about, does Senator Hillary Clinton know what I'm doing? Absolutely. I talked with the Senator, told her what I was doing. She didn't direct me to do it, but she certainly knows that I am doing it. I have been in touch with her all the way in my thinking about how we can move this country in a unified way, and she's prepared to be a part of that unity.