Kanye West’s Oval Office meeting Thursday with President Trump drew strong reactions from backers and detractors alike, with critics likening the musician’s surreal visit to a “minstrel show.”
Several celebrities, news and political figures took umbrage with West’s comments during a lengthy, sprawling monologue that he sees Trump as a “father figure” and that wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat made him feel like “Superman.”
West, who was at the White House for a discussion on policy issues with the president, Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and former football great Jim Brown, effusively praised Trump to a room of reporters as the president sat smiling.
CNN anchor Don Lemon was especially unforgiving in his critique of the meeting, suggesting the rapper’s late mother would be “rolling in her grave.”
“What I saw was a minstrel show today,” Lemon said. “Him in front of all these White people, mostly White people, embarrassing himself and embarrassing Americans, but mostly African-Americans, because every one of them is sitting either at home or with their phones, watching this, cringing.
“I couldn’t even watch it,” Lemon continued. “I had to turn the television off because it was so hard to watch. Him sitting there, being used by the president of the United States. The president of the United States exploiting him.”
Some of the harshest criticism came from fellow rapper and onetime West collaborator T.I., who said in an Instagram post that West’s comments were the “most repulsive, disgraceful, embarrassing act of desperation [and] auctioning off of one’s soul to gain power I’ve ever seen.”
T.I. likened West to the subservient character Stephen from the movie “Django Unchained,” referring to him as a “futuristic Sambo” who was “ass-kissing and boot-licking on a whole new level.”
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star Chelsea Peretti called the meeting “hell on Earth,” while actor George Takei tweeted, “Just when you think we can’t sink any lower, Kanye West is in the Oval Office talking to reporters.”
Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose described the encounter as “a joke… not gonna solve anything in Chicago or anywhere with that sort of attention seeking nonsense.”
West, however, wasn’t without supporters. Right-wing commentators including Sean Hannity, Mike Cernovich and Candace Owens praised the meeting, as Owens took CNN to task for a panel discussion Thursday evening in which West was called a “token Negro,” saying the news network has gone “full blown racist.”