"A Concert for Hurricane Relief," a heartfelt and dignified benefit aired on NBC and other networks Friday night, took an unexpected turn thanks to the outspoken rapper Kanye West. Appearing two-thirds through the program, he claimed "George Bush doesn't care about black people" and said America is set up "to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible." ***The AP may not approve of West's statement, but his "rant" -- perhaps not "dignified" -- was certainly "heartfelt."
Comedian Mike Myers was paired with West for a 90-second segment that began with Myers speaking of Katrina's devastation. Then, to Myers' evident surprise, West began a rant by saying, "I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they're looting. See a white family, it says they're looking for food."
While allowing that "the Red Cross is doing everything they can," West - who delivered an emotional outburst at the American Music Awards after he was snubbed for an award - declared that government authorities are intentionally dragging their feet on aid to the Gulf Coast. Without getting specific, he added, "They've given them permission to go down and shoot us."
After he stated, "George Bush doesn't care about black people. Please call _" the camera cut away to comedian Chris Tucker.
Concluding the hour a few minutes later, Lauer noted that "emotions in this country right now are running very high. Sometimes that emotion is translated into inspiration, sometimes into criticism. We've heard some of that tonight. But it's still part of the American way of life."
Crooks and Liars has the video.
UPDATE: Regarding West's statement that America is set up "to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible"
At midday, the evacuation [of the New Orleans Superdome] was interrupted briefly when school buses rolled up so some 700 guests and employees from the Hyatt Hotel could move to the head of the evacuation line - much to the amazement of those who had been crammed in the stinking Superdome since Sunday.By the way, that story is also from the AP.
"How does this work? They (are) clean, they are dry, they get out ahead of us?" exclaimed Howard Blue, 22, who tried to get in their line. The National Guard blocked him as other guardsmen helped the well-dressed guests with their luggage.
The 700 had been trapped in the hotel, next to the Superdome, but conditions were considerably cleaner, even without running water, than the unsanitary crush inside the dome.