CNN contributor Ed Martin: Trump's attack on LaVar Ball isn't a “racial thing” because he also attacks Jeff Flake

From the November 20 edition of CNN's New Day:

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CHRIS CUOMO (CO-HOST): LaVar Ball, this is what he does. He provokes to build the brand. And yet the president gets involved, why? 

ED MARTIN: Well, I tell you, LaVar Ball, the thing I love about the guy is have you ever seen a sort of modern parent who is, in a way, a better dad? He is always on his kids' side. I mean he's kind of wild, I agree. And I have to say for me, I've always liked how Trump was about his family, his kids. I mean maybe people think this or that but I have to say when I read that tweet, he is also, Trump is being the father-in-chief. I mean, he's whacking back at LaVar Ball, who I think was sort of out of line. And I don't take it very seriously. I think it's more fun and funny. LaVar Ball has taken on Michael Jordan one-on-one. I don't think he means to be too serious. So I think it was kind of a lighter thing than not. That's my read on it.


CUOMO: Ed, is the president targeting people of color when he picks his fights? 

MARTIN: No. Look, I mean, [Senator] Jeff Flake caught it later on in the day. I think anybody, I agree -- I think Bakari is right on, Trump likes to foil. Also I think he is right that he took this, he is elevating LaVar Ball and his brand and all. And I just think it is a little bit more fun. I will say one thing, Trump has a record now of getting some of our American young people out of, especially Asia, where they are in trouble. It was a sad story where the kid from Ohio came home and passed away here but at least we got him home. I think Trump takes some pride in that. But I think this is more, no one takes LaVar Ball, who's taken on Michael Jordan, no one takes him quite as seriously as say the Jeff Flake debate. So I don't see it as a racial thing. I think it is a fun thing and a kind of typical Trump. And as you say, we're talking on national TV about this family. And that's not a bad thing, I mean I think it's a good thing. 

CUOMO: So Ed, if Barack Obama had gotten into a spat with somebody and he said you know what, maybe I'll just leave your kid in Iran if that's how you feel, would you have said it was playful or have you ever gone on a serious harangue about demeaning the presidency and forgetting what he is supposed to be about? 

MARTIN: I don't think I was ever on the TV at the time. But when the president sided with the guy in Harvard instead of the law enforcement officer and then it became the beer summit, I didn't go on and go hysterical. I thought the president, you know, I think the president -- I listened to the program, Chris. I don't think that our presidents in our culture are quite as uniting. I think they have angles they come at. Obama did, Clinton did, Bush did. I just don't think it's a racial thing here. But I take your point. I think some people say, oh, my gosh, here comes the president. But a few hours later Jeff Flake is in the Twitter focus. And I think he's not an African-American. He is a Mormon from Arizona. A lot of people get into it with Trump and I think that ends up good and bad for both of them sometimes. 


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