Don Yelton responds to criticism of his controversial Daily Show interview

Longtime local conservative activist Don Yelton is getting national attention for contentious comments he made Oct. 23 on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

The renowned comedy program featured an interview with Yelton as part of a humorous segment on controversial new voter ID laws in North Carolina and other states across the South.

“The law is going to kick the Democrats in the butt,” Yelton asserted, in contradiction to leaders in the Republican Party who have argued the law isn’t about partisanship. “If it hurts a bunch of college kids that are too lazy to get up off their bohonkas and go get a photo ID, then so be it. If it hurts a bunch of whites, so be it. If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that want the government to give them everything, then so be it,” Yelton continues.

In another exchange, the popular Gawker website notes that Daily Show field reporter Aasif Mandvi “attempted to prompt a reaction by declaring ‘the law is not racist, and you’re not racist.’ Expecting Yelton to fire back with an unequivocal ‘no,’ Mandvi was instead treated to several long seconds of introspection, followed by, ‘well, I’ve been called a bigot before.’” Yelton went on to bemoan the notion that it’s acceptable for black people to use the term “nigger” but not for others to do so.

Mandvi, in disbelief at what he’s was hearing, responded by emphasizing to Yelton: “You know that we can hear you, right?”

Watch the segment here:

Despite the controversy, Yelton tells Xpress: “The comments that were made, that I said, I stand behind them. I believe them.”

The short interview clips were edited together from a much longer two-hour sit-down, says Yelton. But he says he was pleased overall with the parts that were included. In fact, he notes that some of the comments he made that weren’t included might’ve even been more controversial. “To tell you the truth, there were a lot of things I said that they could’ve made sound worse than what they put up.” He adds, “I would’ve loved to been able to do it live. … But that wasn’t offered.”

Yelton says he was well aware of what he was getting into when he agreed to be on the show.

“Everybody and their brother told me, ‘They’re going to make fun of you,’” he notes. “I don’t think we can run from the people that disagree with us. If you’re not willing to talk to people you disagree with, then you’re never going to accomplish anything. So that’s why I agreed to take the interview.”

Yelton says he’s not sure why he was first contacted by a producer of the Daily Show and asked to appear, although he suspects it might’ve been comments related to President Barack Obama’s race he made on Facebook.

The Daily Show presented Yelton as an “NC Republican Executive Committee member.” However, Yelton reports that he didn’t have the blessing of — or even discuss — the media interview with the county party or state GOP beforehand. Yelton has often disagreed with local party leadership, and was forced to step down from the committee last year. However, this summer, Yelton was reinstated as a Buncombe County Republican Party precinct leader, which gives him a seat on the local executive committee.

Daily Show producers, he says, “Wanted it to be more important than it was. I kept explaining to them that I was a member of the executive committee by lieu of the fact that I was a precinct chair.”

Yelton says he was speaking on the show for himself, not as an official party spokesman. However, he says he has little sympathy for viewers who misinterpreted his comments as coming on behalf of the state GOP.

“People could assume that. But that would mean people don’t know anything about how the political structure operates, which they need to find out,” he says.

The Daily Show also interviewed several members of the Buncombe County Young Democratic group, but did not include those clips in the final edited segment.

UPDATE: On Oct. 24, Don Yelton told Pete Kaliner, host of the Pete Kaliner Show on WWNC 570 AM, that the Buncombe County Republican Party asked him to resign his position as precinct chair in response to the Daily Show interview. Yelton said he would resign as requested.

The Buncombe County Republican Party sent out the following statement:

October 24th, 2013

Asheville, NC- On behalf of the Buncombe County Republican Party we would like to express our sincerest regrets and disappointment in the comments made by Don Yelton on the Wednesday edition of Jon Stewarts “The Daily Show”.  Mr. Yeltons comments are offensive, uniformed, and unacceptable of any member within the Republican Party. In no way are his comments representative of the local or state Republican Party.

“Let me make it very clear, Mr. Yelton’s comments do not reflect the belief or feelings of Buncombe republicans, nor do they mirror any core principle that our party is founded upon” said Chairman Mitchell.  “This mentality will not be supported or propagated within our party”.

Mr. Yelton was recently reprimanded and removed from his position as a precinct chair in Buncombe County for a period of time in 2012 through 2013 and was then reelected to precinct chair by 2 votes (his wife and himself) at the 2013 convention placing him back on the Buncombe County Executive Committee.

“We have requested that Don resign his position of precinct chair and if he is unwilling to do this, we will again be pursuing avenues to remove him from any and all positions at any level within the state” said Chairman Mitchell.

“The Daily Show” led viewers to believe that Mr. Yelton was speaking on behalf of the NCGOP.  Mr. Yelton did not seek the approval of any party official before accepting the interview request.



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16 thoughts on “Don Yelton responds to criticism of his controversial Daily Show interview

  1. boatrocker

    Mr. Yelton’s interview sounds like a win/win situation.

    Choice #1- NC’s recent changes to voting laws are blatant ant-Democatic partisan moves= Mr. Yelton’s right and the GOP are sleazy.

    Choice #2- NC’s recent changes to voting laws are not blatant partisan moves= Mr. Yelton is merely a crank to be dismissed by any voter with critical thinking skills.

    • don yelton


  2. bsummers

    Local conservatives like Pete Kaliner are furious with Don for pulling the veil aside. He revealed what a lot of GOPers know full well but have been denying: the Voter ID act is intended to suppress Democratic-leaning voter turnout, especially African-Americans.

    “If it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that want the government to give them everything, then so be it,” Yelton continues.

    This is the biggest reason they are throwing Don under the bus, not the simple racism he expressed, but the fact that he tied it directly to the intention of the Voter ID act.

    Don is former Democrat, isn’t he? I can see the movie poster now: The Manchurian Precinct Chair.

    Good job, Don.

  3. wrenchit

    Its Funny that the repubs ask for his resignation over a comedy show. It really shows the mentality of the Republican Party. I am glad NOT to be a Republican anymore, way too may cheats and liars involved. To bad North Carolina is chock full of them!

  4. Dionysis

    Don Yelton just brought the BCGOP to a whole new level of notoriety. What a display.

  5. Rufus Wainwrong

    If I were a North Carolina Republican, I’d be really embarrassed. Now, what’s this about an interview with a precinct leader?

  6. Mike

    Don just said what they were all thinking. Justice Roberts and others say that racism is no longer here, but Don, the Tea Baggers, and many others demonstrate that good old fashion racism is alive and well. We shouldn’t be surprised with these new voting laws. This is how the GOP wins elections; by rigging the system and cheating. The biggest one being the 2000 election of course. If everyone actually voted for their own self interests, then the Republicans will be out of a job

  7. Dionysis

    Ever the defiant one, Mr. Yelton has added some commentary since this interview, criticizing the BCGOP for not appreciating that his remarks have “attracted media attention” to the BCGOP.

    Well, they many not appreciate the attention, but some of us do. Thanks Don. Keep it up, please.

  8. boatrocker

    -Iran’s 1954 CIA/GOP led junta
    -Early 1960’s Southern GOP/Anti Civil Rights violence aka KKK bombs and dead little black girls for showing up to churches
    -The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution/aka MIC sweet dreams/aka lotta dead drafted poor Americans
    -Mai Lai Massacre/aka GOP approved genocide
    -Supression of the Pentagon Papers/aka GOP inspired censorship
    – Watergate- duh
    -Iran/Contra Affair (aka Reagan’s “I don’t remember negotiating with terrorists”)
    – Newt Gingrich’s 1994 “Contract Out on America”/aka GOP gov’t shutdown
    – Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden on CIA payrolls in the 1970’s under George Bush Sr. the CIA spymaster
    – 2000 AD “where’s the beef?” aka FLA voter fraud
    -2001’s Patriot Act/aka kiss the 4th Amendment buh-bye
    -George Bush Jr.’s 2007 happy ending for corporate welfare/Wall St.
    – 2008- present ‘he ain’t American’ propaganda
    -‘let poor people die/only free market rubes deserve doctors’

    All that news? Fuggettaboutit.

    Yelton and Moffit are so oppressed by the liberal media. Especially when they share the same beliefs.

    Why can’t America just believe the GOP’s revisionist history and go play in the back yard and let far right corporate fascists rule the roost? God (trademarked by the GOP) has dumped enough $ into this country that we owe them like a girl on prom night after dinner and a few Zima wine coolers, for Oil’s sake!

    Moffit, McCrory, etc- avoid Stewart’s show at all costs! He uses your words on TV!

  9. Charles Goines

    It always amazes me how someone can express an honest opinion and be crucified not for what he said but for what others wanted to be his message. Jesus Christ had similar experiences. I wish I could get the text of the whole interview to read, but that wouldn’t change anybody else’s mind, it would only demonstrate again how the media distorts things.

    The worse part of the whole situation is, those who reacted poorly, those who made up their own version of what Don Yelton said, will now double down on their comments instead of admitting they got it wrong. Joe McCarthy got it right, Hollywood, the media and the Federal Government are loaded with lefties ready to apply their trade at a moment’s notice. Watch how my comment is treated and how I am demonized for simply making good sense.

  10. Dionysis

    “I wish I could get the text of the whole interview to read, but that wouldn’t change anybody else’s mind, it would only demonstrate again how the media distorts things.”

    You could always simply go to YouTube and hear the entire 12 minute, unedited interview yourself, and not have to act like there is some kind of ‘distortion’.

    “admitting they got it wrong.”

    Nah, it was motormouth Yelton that “got it wrong.” He was wrong to articulate the real reason behind the voter ID law, and his cohorts cannot have that.

    And praise for Joe McCarthy is nice.

  11. don yelton

    Dionsys so glad you think the 12 minutes on U Tube is the whole interview. You just again exposed you ignorance and avoidance of the over 2 hour interview. Cut and past just like your brain.

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