‘Congressman, In Fairness–’: CNN Host Confronts Dem Rep Dean Phillips Over DEI Website Changes

[Screenshot CNN]

Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
Font Size:

Democratic Minnesota representative and presidential hopeful Dean Phillips sparred with CNN’s Brianna Keilar on Wednesday after he was confronted about allegedly being bought out by a donor to change his website section on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).

Phillips launched a primary run against Biden, expressing frustration at state Democratic parties and the Democratic National Committee for leaving him off the ballot in certain states.  Phillips is polling roughly 66 points behind Biden nationally, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

Keilar asked Phillips why he changed the drop down menu on his campaign website from DEI to “equity and restorative justice.”

Phillips said the website language remains the same but he changed the drop down menu because neither party has done enough on the “inclusion” front of things.

Phillips said neither party has closed the racial wealth gap or helped the black community.

“I made that change to restorative justice. By the way, nobody buys me, Brianna. I am the only member of Congress who takes no PAC money, corporate or otherwise, no lobbyist money, no money from members of Congress and I don’t have a leadership PAC. That makes me the only one out of 535 people that doesn’t play that nauseating game. Nobody buys me. If a donor came to me and told me to do something, I would tell the donor to go pound sand. That’s the truth. But here’s what we have to do —”

“I do want to interrupt you on that because I think you’re mentioning — Bill Ackman, obviously, has insinuated that he has done that very thing to you, which I think is maybe what you’re speaking to there?” Keilar interjected to allege, showing a screenshot of a recent Twitter post by Ackman in which he said Phillips “didn’t understand what DEI was when that was made part of his website. I made the same mistake.”

Ackman also tweeted Phillips was being “educated as we speak.” (RELATED: Dem Presidential Longshot Takes A Hard Left Turn Ahead Of Biden Primary Showdown)

Phillips denied the accusation, saying he has “been learning from so many people,” including Ackman, about different perspectives. Phillips said Ackman never asked, told or coerced him to do anything.

“Is he lying then?” Keilar asked. “Cause he said he did.”

“He’s not lying, no, no, I’ll tell you who’s lying in the media! This is a false portrayal of the truth. But Brianna —”

“No, he tweeted it, let me pull up the–” Keilar tried interjecting.

“— I have to tell you —”

“Congressman, in fairness, let me pull up the tweet. He put this up. He said it in his tweet that you were getting educated ‘as we speak.'” Keilar said. “That’s not the media, that’s Bill Ackman himself … He’s putting it out there himself, that’s not the media.”

“Oh, Brianna,” Phillips said.

“That’s not the media, Congressman. That’s Bill Ackman.”

“You know, Brianna, what a shame that if the media is portraying being educated as a problem. I listen to everybody,” Phillips said.

Phillips then argued the “most important education” he received is how the black community has suffered long-lasting effects of slavery and how that’s never been rectified. Phillips said part of his platform would be ensuring every child would be given a bank account with $1,000 in at birth to create equity, that he wants to establish housing for all and healthcare for everyone.

Keilar argued Ackman was giving the impression that he was influencing Phillips’ campaign before ending the interview.