Racially-Charged Texas Radio Host Michael Berry Renews Friendship With Ted Cruz
Blog ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER
Texas-based radio host Michael Berry, whose racially-charged comments regularly draw widespread criticism, hosted presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on his show to discuss their long friendship and Cruz's new book, but steered clear of controversial issues like Berry's support for the Confederate flag.
During the June 30 episode of The Michael Berry Show, Berry gave Cruz a platform to promote his new book and upcoming book tour. During a discussion about an old nickname Cruz got for being so serious, Cruz confirmed his long friendship with Berry:
BERRY: You're not always so serious.
CRUZ: Well, you have got to have fun. You can't survive a campaign without having fun, without laughing and cutting up. You and I have, more than once, had the opportunity to perhaps kill a few liver cells and laugh at the joy of life.
According to Berry, his friendship with Cruz goes back over a decade. In 2012, after Cruz won the Republican primary in the Texas Senate race, Berry introduced Cruz at the victory party by saying "I am proud to say that Ted Cruz has been my friend for over 10 years." At a 2012 rally, Cruz also singled out and thanked Berry, who was standing beside him.
While Berry's long history of racially-charged, sexist and Islamaphobic remarks haven't caused Cruz to distance himself from his old friend, they have drawn wide criticism. The Texas Observer called Berry "more than your average hatemonger," adding, "He's a notable local figure, a three-term former city councilmember who ran for mayor in 2003" whose Twitter account is "full of racist and xenophobic tweets."
Berry has a history of referring to African-Americans as "animals" and discounting the views of minorities. After the McKinney, Texas pool party that resulted in the controversial arrest of black teenagers, Berry called the teens "jungle animals." In 2014, he said African-American students at UCLA who called for greater campus diversity were "pack animals" and suggested they "get the F over themselves." He has also claimed "black people don't believe black lives matter," and suggested that the election of Barack Obama "prompted the poorest, most violent segment" of African-Americans to clash with police in places like Baltimore.
Comedian Chuck Knipp, who performs in blackface as "Shirley Q. Liquor" has often appeared on The Michael Berry Show. Knipp's act includes making light of welfare recipients and the use of Ebonics. During Knipp's latest performance, right after Berry's June 30 interview with Cruz, the comedian posed mockingly as an Affordable Care Act navigator, doling out incorrect information about the health care law.
Berry has also vehemently defended the Confederate flag, claiming it represents "the heritage" of South Carolina, and has downplayed the racial motivations of the white man accused of the June 17 mass shooting at a black church in Charleston.
During his interview with Cruz, Berry avoided discussion of any of these topics. Cruz has taken pains not to state a firm position on whether the Confederate flag should continue to fly over the South Carolina Statehouse, but his South Carolina campaign co-chair seems to share Berry's views. According to Politico:
State Sen. Lee Bright, Cruz's South Carolina co-chair, has emerged as one of the most vocal opponents of the move. Bright told the Charleston Post and Courier that taking the flag down was akin to a "Stalinist purge," a claim he expanded on in an interview with POLITICO on Tuesday.
"It's not just the flag," Bright said. "They want to take down the Confederate monuments; I've gotten emails from people who want to rename streets. ... Anytime you want to basically remove the symbols of history from a state, that's something that just is very bad. ... These are honorable men who fought for their homes, their home state; to disgrace them in the name of political correctness is just wrong. They're not here to defend themselves."
The full interview between Berry and Cruz, followed by blackface comedian Chuck Knipp, is below: