Watch Ben Carson Refuse to Back Up Trump’s Boasts About Helping Black America

The only African-American cabinet member responds to the president comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln.

Tom Williams/AP

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

On Sunday morning, Ben Carson, the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the only Black member of Donald Trump’s cabinet, declined to back up Trump’s oft-repeated claim that he’s done the most of any president for the African American community since Abraham Lincoln. 

In an interview with George Stephanopolous on ABC’s This Week, Carson said it’s not “productive” to have the debate about whether or not Trump has been the best president for Black people. The remarks came after the president’s interview with Fox News on Friday, where he once again made the claim: “I think I’ve done more for the Black community than any other president, and let’s take a pass on Abraham Lincoln because he did good…although it’s always questionable,” Trump said. 

Carson said it was more important to highlight what the president has actually done, as he launched into a modest list of administration initiatives that he said had benefited African Americans. “The opportunity zones were designed to bring money into areas that are traditionally neglected,” the secretary said. “It has been quite successful. Prison reform has been quite successful.”

But Stephanopoulous pushed further, asking Carson if Trump should stop making the claim altogether. “It’s hard to compare that to Lyndon Johnson passing the Civil Rights Act, Ulysses Grant sending in troops to take on the Ku Klux Klan, President Eisenhower sending in troops to enforce Brown v. Board of Education,” the host pointed out.

While Carson didn’t answer directly, he conceded those historic presidential actions were noteworthy while stopping short of admitting they outstrip his bosses’ accomplishments. “All of which is a significant part of our history,” he responded. “We should be willing to look at what we’ve done collectively to make progress.”

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

THE TRUTH IS...

what drives Mother Jones' team of 50-plus journalists. The truth is powerful, as evidenced by how hard those with something to hide, or profit to gain, seek to discredit it. The truth, stated boldly and reported meticulously, is what draws so many readers to Mother Jones.

And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate