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Monday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” the founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET) Bob Johnson said after a Sunday meeting at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, with President-elect Donald Trump that African-Americans should give the incoming president “a shot and give him the benefit of the doubt.”
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Discussing how the meeting was set up, Johnson said, “You know how these things happen, a friend calls a friend and they say, you know, Bob, President-elect Trump would like to meet with you to talk about how he can better reach out to the African-American community, and I said, that’s a positive sign, so I accepted the invitation. We had a great chat. The most important thing that came out of the meeting, he and I agreed, and if you recall in the election, he asked what do African-Americans have to lose, and I said President-elect Trump, the real question is what do they have to gain by your presidency? And he said you are right, we should talk aspirational, and we should talk about things you believe are important for African-Americans and I want to have that dialogue and that’s what we talked about.”
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He added, “I have known President-elect Trump for some time and I knew him when I was running BET and had seen him at a number of events and it’s my conclusion that we can find common ground with the Trump administration. I know I had a great dialogue with him, with his son-in-law Jared, and I know Reince Priebus, so my approach to these guys is, look, I don’t look at you as enemies and I don’t look at you as necessarily friends. And I look at you on behalf of African-Americans, we have permanent interests. That doesn’t mean that one day we won’t support you or one day we will support you, and that’s where the African-American voter should be. This is something that the congressman from Missouri said when the Congressional Black Caucus was founded, and black America should have no permanent friends or enemies, just permanent interests. With the Trump administration, that’s the philosophy we should take and we should not lock ourselves in one side or the other. And I’m a Democrat, and I say it with all due respect to the Democratic party and the Republican party, this country needs somebody that is going to lead it, not somebody that is going to force us to choose sides. If Donald Trump believes he should be talking about what black Americans have to gain, and as President Obama said and Hillary Clinton said, let’s give him a shot and give him the benefit of the doubt and see if we can find common ground.”
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