Ajamu Baraka and Jill Stein during a CNN town hall. (Screen shot via YouTube)

Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein met Thursday with The Washington Post’s editorial board to discuss her platform, which the paper later described as “poorly formed and wildly impractical.”

Stein is the third 2016 presidential nominee to talk with the Post’s editorial board, which met with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson in July and Republican nominee Donald Trump in March. Hillary Clinton has yet to sit down with the board, although it has condemned her use of a private email server as secretary of state.

After meeting with Johnson, the board members wrote that his and his running mate William Weld’s “refreshing honesty could not cover up the ticket’s defects and lapses.” Of Trump, they noted that his interview “provided no reassurance regarding Mr. Trump’s fitness for the presidency,” adding that “his answers left little doubt how radical a risk the nation would be taking in entrusting the White House to him.”

The editorial board has been highly critical of each candidate it has met with, and the interviews with Trump, Johnson and Stein provided material for multiple other pieces. One of these follow-up reports, by the Post’s Jonathan Capehart, focused on a particular element in the discussion with Stein: her “foul language on race.”

In August, Stein’s running mate, Ajamu Baraka, shocked many when he labeled Barack Obama an “Uncle Tom president,” a declaration he later defended during CNN’s Green Party town hall:

Stein, some viewers argued, “danc[ed] around” the “Uncle Tom” label. “I understand Ajamu’s passion, his frustration and his struggle,” she said in the video above. “I think we have all been guilty of using some language that doesn’t play well as a sound bite.” Baraka has been the subject of controversy before: Some critics claim he has ties to conspiracy theorists and false-flag ideologists.

During Stein’s meeting with the editorial board, she discussed Baraka’s comment, and Capehart analyzed specific segments of the conversation for his opinion piece. He first referenced an exchange between Stein and Jo-Ann Armao, the Post’s associate editorial page editor. Armao noted that Stein “seemed to be making a distinction” between herself and Baraka after his controversial comments. Stein responded:

[W]hen I say “that’s him,” I refer to the provocative language that he uses, but his ideas, and his vision are not different from mine. He is unapologetically a member of an oppressed group, and he speaks in the language of his culture. And I think he speaks to a demographic that feels pretty locked out of the American power structure. And I think it’s extremely valuable for us to be able to have a conversation in more than one dialect. … [Baraka] speaks to a very disenfranchised demographic that does not feel like they’re being served by the power structure, and they’re angry about it. I mean, I think he is disappointed in Barack Obama …

Capehart then joined the conversation, asking if Baraka’s comments were “an appropriate way to talk about the [p]resident of the United States.” Stein responded, “I would never do that.”

Eventually Fred Ryan, the Post’s publisher, asked Stein if Baraka should apologize. “I’m going to leave that up to him,” she said.

Capehart, who is African-American, analyzed aspects of the conversation that “were among the most offensive” to him, writing that “[n]ot one word of what Baraka says speaks to me or for me.” He continued:

Stein’s excuse-making for Baraka’s “very blunt and inflammatory language” makes her no better than Trump. As is her unwillingness to not ask Baraka to apologize to the president. That is no way to talk about any African American, especially the president of the United States.

You know I don’t put up with anyone calling an African American an “Uncle Tom.” I have defended Obama against this charge, and I have defended black conservatives, including Justice Clarence Thomas, as well. Blacks use it against other blacks viewed as insufficiently black. And too many far-left whites excuse it as some “dialect” or “language of his culture.” They are the worst.

Baraka isn’t the first Green Party politician to come under fire for using the phrase “Uncle Tom” to describe Obama. In a 2008 radio interview, former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader wondered whether Obama was “going to be Uncle Sam for the people of this country or Uncle Tom for the giant corporations.”

Stein and Baraka have recently focused on further distinguishing themselves from the mainstream Democratic Party. “One can argue Barack Obama is in many ways more aggressive than George W. Bush,” Baraka said in a recent radio interview. The two also continue to push for an open presidential debate including them, Clinton, Trump and Johnson.

—Posted by Emma Niles

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