NEW YORK — Don Yelton, a local Republican official in North Carolina, has been forced to resign following an appearance this week on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” in which he made a series of racially charged remarks.
On Wednesday, correspondent Aasif Mandvi traveled to North Carolina to look at the effect of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. There he met with Yelton, a precinct chairman in Buncombe County and an advocate of the state’s strict new voter ID laws which, according to some, disproportionately target minority voters.
In the segment, Yelton denied that the laws were in any way racist. But when it came to his own views, he was less adamant. When asked point-blank if he was a racist, Yelton took a long pause then replied, “Well, I’ve been called a bigot before.”
From there he continued to dig an even deeper hole, telling Mandvi “one of my best friends is black,” repeatedly using the N-word and saying he favored the state’s new laws because “if it hurts the whites, so be it. If it hurts lazy black people that wants the government to give them everything, so be it.” (He also admitted the new regulations were politically motivated — or, as he put it, “The law is going to kick the Democrats in the butt.”)
So unguarded were Yelton’s ramblings that Mandvi asked Yelton, “You know that we can hear you, right?”
The segment quickly went viral Thursday, with New York Magazine calling it “the most baldly racist ‘Daily Show’ interview of all time.” Yelton did not do much to help his case, telling the Mountain Xpress in a follow-up interview that “the comments that were made, that I said, I stand behind them. I believe them.”
By Thursday afternoon, the Buncombe County Republican Party asked Yelton to resign from his post via a press release on Facebook.
“Mr. Yelton’s comments are offensive, uniformed, and unacceptable of any member within the Republican Party. In no way are his comments representative of the local or state Republican Party,” said Buncombe County GOP chair Henry Mitchell, who also emphasized that Yelton did not seek approval from party officials before speaking with “The Daily Show.”
The state GOP also called for Yelton to resign and condemned his remarks as “outrageous.”
Yelton apparently obliged, telling Pete Kaliner, host of “The Pete Kaliner Show” on WWNC-AM, that he’d resigned.