Former Fox News host Eric Bolling walked out of a BBC News debate about Georgia’s sweeping new voting laws after a guest said white Republicans like him were only pretending to care about Black people to make a point.
Mr Bolling was joined by political commentator Aisha Mills on BBC Newsnight on Wednesday to discuss businesses speaking out against the controversial laws, and Major League Baseball moving its All-Star game to Colorado in protest.
The former Fox presenter said that moving the All-Star game out of Atlanta would cost the local community $100m in revenue and that it was now being held in a state where only 9.7 per cent of the population is African American.
Ms Aisha dismissed his argument, saying he was trying to “create a wedge”.
“I think it’s really rich for any Republican, especially a white man, to run around and claim that they care about the economic condition of Black communities and Black businesses when that’s all a lie,” she said.
Mr Bolling interjected to claim that characterisation was “insulting and not fair to say”.
“You don’t know me, you don’t know who I am. … That’s just disgusting what you just said,” Mr Bolling said.
Ms Aisha said the Georgia legislation represented a return to Jim Crow-era laws, which enforced racial segregation and saw sustained efforts to stop Black people voting in South until the mid-1960s.
“How dare you try to act like you are somehow a proponent of Black people in businesses, just to make a point and try to create a wedge. It’s ignorant and disrespectful,” she said.
It was at this point that Mr Bolling stormed out of the interview for the first time.
“That’s disgusting. I’m done. Put me off, that’s disgusting. I am nowhere near anything you’re pointing me to be and the problem with American politics is exactly that. Because I’m white you think I’m racist. That’s BS. I’m done.”
Mr Boilling returned briefly when host Emily Maitlis asked him to stay for one more question – but then left for good after his demand for an apology from Ms Aisha was refused.
She responded: “I’m not going to apologise for being offended. No.”
At least 361 bills to restrict voting rights have been filed by Republican lawmakers in nearly every state, according to a new analysis from the Brennan Centre for Justice, which has tracked suppressive voting legislation across the US.
Five bills have already been signed into law, including a sweeping measure in Georgia, where Governor Brian Kemp and Republican state lawmakers have reduced the number of places where people can vote, barred elections officials from oversight, and criminalised giving out food and water to people waiting in voting lines, among other measures that make it harder to vote in the state.
James Quincy, the CEO of Georgia-based Coca-Cola, called the law “unacceptable” and a “step backward”. Delta airlines CEO Ed Bastian called the measure “based on a lie”.
The CEOs of Dow, HP, Levi’s, Lyft, Salesforce and ViacomCBS, among dozens of others, also issued a joint statement against proposed restrictions on voting across the US.
Donald Trump has meanwhile raged at “woke companies that are interfering with Free and Fair Elections”.