CNN panelists Angela Rye and Gina Loudon had a heated exchange on Wednesday night after Loudon claimed previous presidents didn’t need black employees to abolish slavery.
The panel was discussing the White House’s refusal to disclose its diversity numbers. Reporters had asked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about the issue on Wednesday, and she said she wasn’t “going to go through and do a count.”
Loudon, who serves on President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign media advisory board, attempted to deflect the issue by referencing the years of white presidents who managed to do “great things” without employing black people.
“I think, you know you look back at our history and we have a pretty amazing history of overcoming slavery, of expanding civil rights, of women’s rights, and a lot of those things happened under American presidents who didn’t have any minorities at all on their White Houses,” Loudon said.
She did not acknowledge that minorities and other marginalized groups were at the helm of these movements: Freed slaves pushed for the abolition movement and fought in the Civil War; women led the movement for their right to vote; black Americans led marches for civil rights across the country.
Rye, CEO of political advocacy firm Impact Strategies, pushed back immediately, telling Loudon she wouldn’t be able to “successfully name one black person that works in the West Wing.”
“So regardless of your points about slavery, which are nonsense ― I hope you R.I.P. those talking points tonight, they should never be resurrected ― I’m telling you that it’s a problem in this White House, with this staff, and the reason why is because it’s slim pickings,” Rye said. “You know why? Because no one wants to go work for a racist.”
Loudon responded to Rye by claiming she would not support a president who would harm the future of her “adopted minority son” with Down syndrome.
Watch Rye and Loudon’s exchange in the clip below: