These days, presidential press conferences are few and far between. The few that do happen are sprinkled with easily disprovable lies — few of which are entertaining. But on November 7, Trump claimed he didn't know Celebrity Apprentice contestant Lil Jon. The reality TV star said he'd never met a man who participated on HIS TV show and has been photographed with him on multiple occasions. That's a real thing that happened. Live, on the news!
Here's why this came up at all: A reporter asked the President about allegations that he had used offensive language to describe people of color. Specifically, per the reporter, it was said Trump described the Grammy-winning artist as "Uncle Tom," which has been a slur for more than 150 years. Instead of denying it outright or making an impassioned speech about how he'd never do that, Trump went a different route. He took time from his presidential conference to remark, "I don't know him. I don't know who that is."
First of all, everyone knows who Lil Jon is. Even if you haven't kept up with him since he emerged in the mid-'90s, by the end of 2003, he was inescapable. His influence on music and culture is everlasting. This dude won a Grammy award for the song "Yeah!" in 2005. Everyone knows Lil Jon.
But more than that — so much more than that — Lil Jon was a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice in 2011. You know, the show hosted and made famous by Donald J. Trump. Cue Lil Jon voice: "Whaaat?"
The internet was quick to jump on this. Twitter covered it all afternoon as users shared photos of the two standing side by side as well as clips of a red carpet event they attended together. If they'd met in passing at an event or if the rapper had competed in one of the first seasons of the show, Trump's confusion would be understandable. If they'd never met and Lil Jon was just a famous musical artist, it would make sense that Trump wouldn't recall him. But that isn't the case. Lil Jon lasted eight of the 12 episodes on the 2011 season of The Celebrity Apprentice. There's photo *and* video evidence that the two attended at least one publicity event for it together. Come on. Trump's strongest defense against allegations of racist remarks was to say he didn't know the guy making the claims. A moment later, the reporter pointed it out, at which point Trump *seemed* to remember who he was. Whether he actually did is anyone's guess.
Interestingly, a lot of people do know Lil Jon was a Celebrity Apprentice contestant, for the same reason they know Meatloaf and Gary Busey were contestants in the same season. It's not that they watched — it's that then-President Barack Obama brought it up during the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner. During that speech, which is kind of shocking to watch now, Obama teases Trump about his presidential aspirations. He literally lays out a scene from Celebrity Apprentice that involves contestants Gary Busey, Meatloaf, and Lil Jon. As the world later learned, Obama had given the go-ahead to take out Osama bin Laden the same evening.
The full speech has over 10 million views on YouTube. There's also a 2016 Washington Post article that gently suggests that night's speech had a hand in causing Trump to run for president for real. Of course, no one can say for sure.
The Trump administration lies all the time, about everything. Now, that includes something as innocuous as Trump's history with Lil Jon. It's just so bizarre.
Can we reset the Matrix simulation now, please?