Rapper Kanye West denounces Bush response, American media at hurricane relief telethon

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Saturday, September 3, 2005

Kanye West during telethon, as he makes his statement live.

Grammy award-winning rapper/producer Kanye West appeared on a live on-air telethon simulcast on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC and PAX for Hurricane Katrina victims. Live on air, West said "George Bush doesn't care about black people," after saying "America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible." He also said "the Red Cross is doing everything they can," and stated that he was going to see what the maximum amount of money he can donate is. West criticized government authorities and stated that "They've given them permission to go down and shoot us."

West first deviated from the script he and comedian Mike Myers were using by commenting on the recent uproar over differently captioned photos for black and white people in the aftermath of the hurricane: "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."

Though a several-second delay was in place, the comments were let through uncensored on the EST live broadcast as the person in charge "was instructed to listen for a curse word, and didn't realize he had gone off-script," according to an NBC spokeswoman.

NBC has released a statement after the broadcast: "Tonight's telecast was a live television event wrought with emotion. Kanye West departed from the scripted comments that were prepared for him, and his opinions in no way represent the views of the networks. It would be most unfortunate if the efforts of the artists who participated tonight and the generosity of millions of Americans who are helping those in need are overshadowed by one person's opinion."

The sponsor of the event, the American Red Cross, also issued a statement on the telethon, stating: "During the telecast, a controversial comment was made by one of the celebrities. We would like the American public to know that our support is unwavering, regardless of political circumstances. We are a neutral and impartial organization, and support disaster victims across the country regardless of race, class, color or creed."

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