Charles Barkley Nikki Haley Credit: King Charles on CNN

Charles Barkley’s new CNN talk show King Charles with co-host Gayle King has managed to score some fairly big interviews since its launch, with perhaps none bigger than this week’s headliner, GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley. To kick off the interview, Barkley let the former South Carolina governor know that he was a big fan, but implored her to clarify her comments on the campaign trail last year that America has “never been a racist country.”

“I’m dying to vote for you,” Barkley told Haley. “I mean that sincerely. I want to give all my energy and all my heart behind your campaign, but I was upset when you made the reference that you didn’t think America had racism.”

Barkley then asked Haley whether she simply was playing to the crowd, or truly believed it.

“If my mom had told me that we lived in a racist country, I would have grown up never thinking I could be governor, never thinking I could be ambassador, never thinking I could run for president,” Haley said. “But my mom always said, ‘your job is not to show them how you’re different, your job is show them how you’re similar.'”

Previously, Barkley excoriated Haley over her comments in an early episode of King Charles, calling the candidate’s message “stupid.”

“You can criticize the country. (The United States) is the greatest country in the world,” Barkley said then. “But you can still criticize it. Anybody who thinks we don’t have racism, you turn on the TV every single day, there’s racism! And for her, somebody who wants to be the president of the United States to say something that stupid, that’s just stupid.”

This is the biggest straight politics interview King Charles has scored since its launch. And to his credit, Barkley did not back away from this controversial topic.

Haley attempted to squirm out of her initial phrasing while King pressed her. Barkley did not jump in again until later in the interview.

[King Charles on CNN]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.