BET CEO Johnson Appeals to Top African Americans in Bush White House

WASHINGTON (October 19, 2004) ñ After more than a month of waiting, BET finally got an answer from President George W. Bush to a formal invitation to address African-American voters in his own primetime BET NIGHTLY NEWS interview on the network.  The answer is no. 

BET Founder and CEO Robert Johnson first issued invitations to both President Bush and Democratic Presidential hopeful Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) on September 14.  He asked each of them to appear on the network to discuss issues of relevance to BET viewers during this crucial stretch of the 2004 Presidential Election campaign.  Senator Kerry accepted, and his half-hour interview was televised on October 7.  But according to representatives of the White House, President Bushís current schedule will not allow time for him to appear on BET, and they asked that the network approach him again, ìafter the election.î

In response to the Bush decline, Mr. Johnson has sent an open letter to top African Americans in the Bush Administration ñ Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Education Rod Paige, and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson; along with former Oklahoma Republican Congressman J. C. Watts, who is leading a grassroots group of African-American Republicans supporting the Bush re-election effort. 

Here is the text of Mr. Johnsonís letter to leading African-American members of the Bush Administration in response to President Bushís decline of BETís invitation to appear on the network:

On September 14, BET extended invitations to both President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry to discuss issues of relevance to African-American voters in their own primetime interview specials on our network.  Senator Kerry accepted our invitation within a few days and that interview special was televised on Thursday, October 7. 

To our disappointment and after 35 days of waiting, we were informed this week that President Bush will not make room in his schedule to appear on BET to share his vision with African-American voters.  Contacts with the Bush campaign further instructed us to ìask again after the election.î

As leading African Americans appointed by President Bush and supportive of both his policies and his re-election campaign, I urge you to ask the President to reconsider.  While we have applauded your appointment to such a key role in the Bush Administration, political appointments are not enough when it comes to communicating the Presidentís plan of action to address issues that African Americans find important.

There is little doubt that African-American voters have the power to decide the outcome of this election.  Our invitations to President Bush and Senator Kerry were each candidateís chance to show African Americans that their issues, opinions and their votes really matter.  To decline this opportunity does not send a very positive signal to African Americans with just 14 days left before the election.

We look forward to your response to our request for intervention in this matter.


Robert L. Johnson
Founder and CEO

Posted by loni on 10/26 at 07:48 AM in Politics

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