Cory Booker praises Tim Scott to MSNBC host who's disparaged him as token Black Republican

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Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., took a few moments Tuesday to praise Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., in an unexpected place: on far-left MSNBC host Joy Reid’s show.

While discussing ongoing police reform legislation on the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, Booker told Reid, a frequent critic of Scott, that Scott had given him “solace and strength” by telling him about his experiences with police as a U.S. Senator. He then praised Scott for his work on police reform legislation. 

Booker’s approach ran in stark contrast to Reid’s past statements concerning Scott and other Black conservative figures. In March, Reid claimed that Republicans use Scott as a prop at press conferences because he helps them create a “patina of diversity,” which critics took as demeaning him as a mere token rather than a serious legislator. Reid said she was “embarrassed” for Scott after his response to President Biden’s joint address to Congress last month where he said the U.S. was not a racist country. 

In 2012, Reid penned an “open letter” to Scott upon his appointment to the U.S. Senate to not be a “token.”

She’s also referred to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as “Uncle Clarence,” a reference to the disparaging term “Uncle Tom” for Blacks viewed as overly deferential to Whites. Earlier this month she compared Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to a traitorous slave character in the movie “Django Unchained.”

Reid and Booker began the interview by talking about ongoing congressional efforts for police reform, with Reid focusing on whether or not changes to qualified immunity for police officers would be included in any bill that passes. She asked Booker if he could reach an agreement with Republicans on reform. 

“I’m working principally with Tim Scott and a handful of others. I have had moments in this negotiation that have given me solace and strength as I watch Tim Scott share stories about his own encounters with police, even as a United States senator,” Booker said. “He is not caving to the politics of this. He is sincere. We may have disagreements on a lot of the parts of the bill, but I’m telling you, as a Black man, Tim Scott is sincere in wanting to see us address these problems.”

Reid didn’t respond to Booker’s praise of Scott, and instead questioned Scott’s influence over his Republican colleagues, asking if he had the ability to deliver Republican votes on potential legislation.

Booker responded by refuting Reid’s attempts to criticize Scott and Republicans on the issue. He explained that, while he loved Reid’s show, he’s had to approach the scenario with “good faith” and not paint all police officers and Republicans with a broad brush.

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