"The Nightly Show" host Larry Wilmore is one of television's sharpest comedians on the subject of race — he named the daily election-season updates on his Comedy Central series "Blacklash 2016: The Unblackening," in reference to the fact that the current crop of presidential candidates guarantees the U.S.'s next commander In chief will not be black — calling out liberals and conservatives alike. But Wilmore says much of the media's focus on race in the election may be misplaced.
On his Monday show, Wilmore cited the Democratic candidates' debate Sunday night in Flint, Michigan, where Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders responded to a question from CNN moderator Don Lemon about his "racial blind spots" with a highly scrutinized response about African-Americans living in ghettos.
"When you are white, you don't know what it's like to live in a ghetto. You don't know what it's like to be poor," said Sanders.
"Did you just say all black people are poor and are living in ghettos?" asked Wilmore after showing the Sanders debate clip. "I think I just found your blind spot."
However, Wilmore also had some criticism for Lemon and CNN's line of questioning: "What kind of a question is this? If it is a blind spot, how would you know?" In fact, Wilmore said, the media should ease up on its criticism of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's and Sanders' respective positions on race issues and instead call out Republican front-runner Donald Trump, whom he argued has displayed much more explicit signs of a racist agenda.
"Can we please put a pause on sweating the Democrats on race? In 1963 Bernie Sanders was arrested while protesting segregation in Chicago and in the 1970s Hillary Clinton went undercover to expose racism in Alabama schools," Wilmore explained. "Yes, both Clinton and Sanders voted for the crime bill, as did most black lawmakers at the time, but I think they have earned the benefit of the doubt on race." Wilmore went on to say that Trump's refusal to disavow support from white supremacists (in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union" Feb. 28) was not a racial blind spot but rather "cataracts."
Watch Larry Wilmore discuss race and the election in the clip from "The Nightly Show" below:
Discussions about fixing issues of systemic racism, such as police brutality, have dominated the Democratic race as Clinton and Sanders compete for the black vote. That vote will be key to winning the important winner-take-all primary in Michigan Tuesday. Clinton is currently leading in the polls in Michigan, as well as in the overall delegate count.