Debate moderator Tavis Smiley

The moderator of Thursday’s Democrat presidential debate said he did not ask the mostly black audience to refrain from applauding candidates’ answers, because blacks are too “emotional” to obey such a rule.

Asked by C-Span host Brian Lamb why he didn’t enforce a no-applause rule for his PBS-sponsored debate like other debate formats, moderator Tavis Smiley
explained: “Because black people are an emotional people. I know it wouldn’t have worked.”

Smiley says the black audience attending the 90-minute session at Howard University would not have listened or complied with such a request for silence, suggesting African-Americans are unable to control themselves.

He made the remarks on Friday morning’s Washington Journal program aired on C-Span.

The nationally televised debate featured eight Democrat candidates, including Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois.

Smiley, a black talk show host and liberal political activist, made the observation in the wake of widespread violence during Juneteenth celebrations across the nation.

Police reported stabbings, shootings and beatings – including the fatal mob beating of a Hispanic man – at festivals commemorating the black holiday in Milwaukee, Wis.; Austin, Texas; Syracuse, N.Y.; and other cities.



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