Friday, August 22, 2014

Exclusive Interview with Eboni K Williams (CBS NEWS Correspondent)

Political Strategist For The People

By Belinda Trotter-James

This has got to be one of the most important political interviews that I've done in a long while.  Eboni Williams is one of the brightest young political stars to rise up from the ashes in a long time. I watched several of Eboni's CNN news clips along with a few of the FOX News clips and you really have to know your political history plus be abreast of world news and politics in general.  The seasoned pros you see on the news broadcasts have been doing this for a long time, therefore how can someone with a young, fresh spirit prepare to have an intelligent, spirited dialog? "It's a lot", says Eboni.  "I just try to make it my business to know everything and education is probably the biggest passion of my life"

Eboni is the first person in her family to finish a four year university and move on to a professional law degree. "I didn't come from very much financially", remembers Eboni.  "My mom was very serious about getting a full education. She didn't have that many resources, but she was very, very serious about my education. She didn't play around when it came to school and grades. She was my advocate and was very involved in my school activities, my teachers and my schoolwork.  My mom probably got on my teachers nerves because she was always there and was constantly at the school asking questions to find out how I can do better."

Eboni also said that her mom did whatever she needed to do to get her to the next level.  Of course she knew she didn't have $60,000 or whatever it costs at the time to send her to college. So she's did what any mom would do.  She's made sure her daughter got a full scholarship to the university of North Carolina. She got her undergraduate degree for free. Eboni always took school very seriously.  "I wasn't perfect, but I always understood the correlation between high academic achievement and long-term success.  This is where some of our young people today miss that understanding," explains Eboni.

The political arena can be a beast and for a young woman such as Ebony she is definitely swimming with the sharks and holding her own. Eboni must have been a child prodigy or maybe her mother made her watch CNN news when she was a baby.  That's the only way I can see the mind of Ebony Williams being able to retain all that political chatter.  She laughs and says, "My first memory of being involved with politics was when Harvey Gantt, the former/first black mayor of Charlotte ran for the United States Senate. My aunt took me and that was my first exposure to the political process. What I learned is that there were a lot of people that didn't know each other coming together from different nationalities.  It fascinated me to see the process of all these people from different walks of life coming together to support a specific person for a specific agenda of what an activity should look like. I thought it was a pretty cool process."
The political bug hit Eboni again when she was in Law school when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.  "I was right there," remembers Eboni.  "I finished my law degree and interned with the New Orleans City Council and I worked at the Attorney  General's office in Louisiana. That's when I saw for the first time from the inside out the political process. I started to get ideas about how I can make an impact though being an attorney as well as a political advisor and really learning everything.  However, when you get on the city level, that's when you really get with your constituents and because that was my intern experience I got a lot of experience dealing with people and their individual concerns and how they rely on government to make things better for them."

Government has an enormous responsibility and that's why Eboni has such a passion for politics. She knows that there are people that don't have to rely on government for things and that's wonderful, but then they are people who do and  government has to do their part for those people. When you watch enough of Eboni's videos you will see that she is not some super left-wing person that feels people should fully be reliant on government instead of helping themselves get to a position where they don't have to be dependent on government. Eboni revealed that it's very much a twofold process.

If you do get a chance to watch her videos or see her in action, she can keep up with the political news heavyweights such as Sean Hannity, Neil Cavuto, Ryan Girdusky or Bill O'Reilly.  She doesn't miss a beat with her fabulous smile. No one discussing political agendas with her will see her sweat.  You will also not catch her off guard and call her an black angry woman. "You know it's so funny you should mention that because that is something I was very aware of when it comes to the progressive commentator," states Eboni.  "Most people believe everything they see and hear on the news.  When it comes to television I'm very cognizant on the way images are shaped and the preconceived notions that the viewership seems to have about black people/black women.  I knew from the first time I went on Fox News that I would never play the angry black woman. The minute you do that any common sense or good thing that comes out of your mouth is null and void. All they will see is another angry black woman and so it defeats the purpose of your responses.

I don't go on any of the shows to waste my time. You're on the shows to promote your brand or your ideology. I'm not on the show because writing a book or anything now, but it really meant a lot to me to have a platform to show these viewers a different type of black person and a different type of ideology.  I'm not going to let a few people  get away with stereotyping us and lumping us all together and believing we are all just poor ignigant, ignorant angry folk that are mad because Uncle Sam is not taking care of us.  I refuse to push that narrative and I felt like I was given this platform. I felt very privileged to be able to open up that dialogue and push for a different type of narrative."

Well,  Eboni is definitely doing an excellent job at staying cool, calm and confident. They never see her sweat while firing rapid dialogue on important world issues.   When it's time to speak, Eboni's spit-fire, rapid dialogue comes right back at them with an explosive response that's right on the money with a smile. Has it ever been a time when she didn't have an answer? I'm sure it happens to the best of them. "I'm still a work in progress," says Eboni.  "When I started working at FOX News, the format was more like a debate so there was more of a strategy behind it. When I started out I didn't necessarily have the proper answer or the best thought out answer, but you learn. Anything you do often enough you learn how to do it better. And now I have a real rapport with Bill O'Reilly and part of that is because I do my research," explains Eboni.

Part of Eboni's research is watching YouTube clips and other clips of Bill O'Reilly in action so that she would know exactly how to handle herself in front of a heavyweight like Bill. Now when she goes on the show with Bill she can almost anticipate how he is going to think about an issue or what questions he is going to ask. If you think about it, it's similar to what you would do as a trial attorney. You might be representing the defendant but your job is to anticipate what the prosecutor is going to ask. Unless you actively understand the way the other side is thinking, you would have failed before you started.

Since this is television you do not have hours to get your point across. Sometimes you have to say what you need to in 30 seconds or less. "Yes", laughs Eboni. "They love to cut you off the minute they see you will not fall for the trap. Some platforms are not as fast pace and I can have a chance to take my time to give a well thought out answer.

The political arena is dominated by men however, women today are still faced with many challenges because they are women.  Eboni recognizes two of the challenges and does not let it affect her ability to do a good job.  "Well two of the challenges are being young and female and you can also throw in being a black woman. Overcoming the youth factor is one because people seem to think that young people are apathetic and ignorant as to what's going on in our political landscape", explains Eboni. "The other is overcoming being pigeon-holed because I'm a woman.  Every producer and even sometimes the host will think that they already know where I stand on an issue. Let me give you an example,  I did a show a couple of months ago where we were talking about racism among the GOP and they said, 'Eboni why is it okay for Harry Reid to call Barack Obama articulate?' I responded, "I'm not ever going to say what Harry Reid said was wise. As a matter of fact, I thought it was ignorant. Furthermore, there are many examples of our Vice President, Joe Biden  making very racially, ignorant statements about being articulate and using racially coded language and its no better to me than the racially viewed things we've heard from the Republican Party."

That spit-fire answer took them off guard because they were probably already thinking she was going to support any and every Democratic elected official. "That has been one of my greatest challenges which is to break that mold of left-wing ideology and open up a space for something more broad, fluid and something that deals more with policy concerns", explains Eboni.

It has been very challenging and difficult for the networks to think she's only a Democratic strategist. Eboni does not want to be called a Democratic strategist. Correction, she is a political strategist. "I'm not going to sit on a network and carry a banner for all democratic officials. I am registered as an independent even though I can fall left on most issues.  However, I would like to get everybody to talk about the issues and the policies. That has been my greatest challenge," says Eboni.

For those who are not interested in politics Eboni brings a fresh new perspective on political issues. She makes it interesting enough so that you will want to watch, listen and learn about how politics work in the United States of America. She is very appreciative of the platform she has with Fox News and CNN. This is not just a hobby for her it's her career. Being on the Fox News Channel was an awesome way for her to cut her teeth with Bill O'Reilly and others. Her radio show allows her to spread her wings so that people can see she can do more than just political bantering back and forth. "I am really in touch and in control with a lot of social justice issues", begins Eboni.  "I can also talk about some of the supreme court decisions in depth and give legal analysis on how it will affect us as women and as people because it's not just about birth control. What we really need to be concerned about is the underlining rulings where the courts have said corporations can be deemed people. That's the biggest part of the ruling that people are missing because that opens up the space for a lot of different corporate interest to take the forefront over some individual interests. We've never seen a court say that before and that can be very scary. Now these corporations will have equal footing, equal standing in getting what they want in lieu of what individuals want and that's a big concern.

In order to follow in  Eboni's foot steps you have to be passionate about politics and go to law school. "Do what you're passionate about.  I know that's common advice, but I say that with this caveat, I'm still a realist and know that people want to live well and be able to support themselves and their family.  I'm not saying don't be concerned with those issues. I tell every young person to become so good at what you do that you cannot be denied. I promise you the money and the success will come. That is what I know from first-hand experience. It might be delayed or it may be linear which is something else I had to learn the hard way. I always had the expectation of when you do something and do it well you get compensated for it in that order. However, what I have learned is that it's not always in that order. Success doesn't always take a linear form and that's where faith comes in. My faith in God is a huge part of who I am and what I do. That's when your faith kicks in and you have to believe in things not seen and know that it is coming.

You can keep up with Eboni on her Twitter  She reads all the positive as well as the critical correspondence that comes her way; it's an important way for her to grow. She says she will never reach a point in this business where she feels maximized.  "I don't believe in feeling maximized.  I believe in constant growth and constant evolution", says Eboni. Don't look for her on Fox News anymore; she's got a new gig coming out in September. Stay tuned so that we can reveal who snatched up this political superstar!

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  1. She is a knockout. Too bad she's a Democrat.

  2. Who is Eboni's MOTHER - the question is due to comments about her Mother watching!

  3. I watch Fox News and I must say that I listen to Eboni's opinions and view points...........Well respected......

  4. So sad not to see her on Fox much--love her and love Fox but wish her much success!!!