Here’s the transcript of what White House spokesman Jay Carney said about the appearance of Common, a.k. Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr., at an event this evening.
Carney said, “First of all, the President does not support and opposes the kinds of lyrics that have been written about, as he has in the past. He has spoken very forcefully out against violent and misogynist lyrics. Secondly, in regard to the concerns by some law enforcement, this President’s record of support for law enforcement is extremely strong. He remains committed to the men and women who protect the American citizens and put themselves in harm’s way all the time. He was able to express that appreciation and support just last week in New York when he met with police and firefighters.
“And I would say that while the President doesn’t support the kind of lyrics that have been raised here, he does — I mean, we do think that some of these reports distort what Mr. Lynn stands for, more broadly, in order to stoke a controversy. I mean, he is — within the genre of hip-hop and rap, he is what’s known as a conscience rapper — or a conscious rapper, rather. And I would quote a report just six months ago from Fox News where he was described as a rap legend and quote, “Your music is very positive and you’re known as the conscious rapper. How important is that to you, and how important do you think that is to our kids?”
“And I think that one of the things that the President appreciates is the work that Mr. Lynn has done with children, especially in Chicago, trying to get them to focus on poetry, as opposed to some of the negative influences of life on the street.”
Asked whether Common had been vetted, Carney said, “I don’t know specifically about the vetting process. The fact is, Mr. Lynn has participated in other events in the past, including the lighting of the Christmas Tree, I believe. I mean, he’s a Grammy award-winning — multi Grammy-award winning artist. And he’s been invited to this event about poetry, and partly because of his efforts to bring poetry to audiences that don’t get to experience it. And we think that’s a positive thing.”
President Obama “has spoken out about — very strongly against — as an elected official, as an American and as a father, against those kinds of lyrics. And he opposes them. But he does not think that that is the sum total of this particular artist’s work, which has been recognized by a lot of mainstream organizations and fair and balanced organizations like Fox News, which described his music as very positive.”
Common sent out a Tweet several hours ago in which he said, “Politics is politics and everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I respect that. The one thing that shouldn’t be questioned is my support for the police officers and troops that protect us every day. Peace yall!”