On this week’s episode of “Majority Minority,” journalist April Ryan explains why she’s unafraid asking the “black question,” how covering President Donald Trump is different from covering past presidents and why she’d like to have the new president over for dinner.
Ryan, the Washington Bureau chief for American Urban Radio Network, is one of the few African-American reporters in the White House press corps. She is also one of the best-known.
She has covered four administrations, and drew attention recently after exchanges with Trump and Press Secretary Sean Spicer on issues of race and gender.
When Ryan asked Trump during a February news conference whether he would be meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss his agenda, Trump responded: “I would. Do you want to set up a meeting? Are they friends of yours?”
She exchanged words with Omarosa Manigault, an administration communications official, and Spicer told her to “please stop shaking your head.”
The new notoriety has opened doors for her; she’s now working with CNN. But Ryan shares with “Majority Minority” co-hosts Franco Ordoñez and William Douglas that it has made her a bit uncomfortable.
“I’ve been doing the same thing for 20 years,” she said. “Why now? I don’t want this to define me. This is not my defining moment.”
I would love even more to have a soul food dinner with President Trump.
The Baltimore-bred Morgan State graduate started off as a jazz disc jockey but quickly moved to news, where she felt more comfortable.
In her 20 years covering the White House, Ryan has watched the number of minority journalists in the briefing room dwindle.
In some ways, it’s largely been up to Ryan to keep minority issues — and how policies affect minority communities — on the agenda in the White House briefing room. If Ryan were not there, often these questions would not be asked.
“Why can’t the dynamic of all people be in that room?” Ryan says. “Why can’t it be? All people are covered under the White House. Am I correct? So I really dislike that, but I have no qualms with it. If you want to call me a black reporter, I am the black reporter who also asks other issues and questions on China, Russia, Syria, North Korea. So if you want to label me a black reporter, I take it with a badge of honor.”
Ryan and Douglas also revealed details of a previous presidential encounter: a dinner with then-President Bill Clinton and African-American reporters at Douglas’ house.
Over garlic fried chicken, chitterlings and black-eyed peas, the group of black journalists sat down with Clinton for an off-the-record conversation to get to know each other and talk about issues that were important to the group.
Secret service agents filled his basement as Ryan’s aunt fried the chicken.
“We made history as journalists meeting with the president,” Ryan said. “That was a historic night. And that is in his library.”
Ryan said she would love to sit down with Trump for a meal. It’s a moment to find out what makes a president tick, she said.
“Who is he? What does he think? Why is thinking this? Because he, his decisions, his pen can change lives. This is real, because minority communities in this country, and even the poor, have the highest number of negatives in almost every category still in 2017.”
“I would love to have a conversation with President Trump. I would love even more to have a soul food dinner with President Trump. Just let him be relaxed and talk.”