Trump calls Spike Lee's Oscar speech a "racist hit on your President"

By Caitlin O'Kane

/ CBS News

Spike Lee won his first Academy Award ever on Sunday, and some of the remarks in his exuberant acceptance speech drew the ire of President Trump. Lee won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for "BlacKkKlansman," which he also directed. In his speech, he challenged Americans to mobilize for the 2020 presidential election. President Trump responded on Twitter, calling Lee's comments "racist."

When his name was called, Lee bounded to the stage in his purple suit — a tribute to Prince — wearing rings that said "LOVE" on one hand and "HATE" on the other. He read his speech from notes on a yellow paper.

"The 2020 presidential election is around the corner," Lee said at the end. "Let's all mobilize. Let's all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let's do the right thing!"

Spike Lee accepts the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for "BlacKkKlansman" during the 91st Annual Academy Awards. Getty Images

"Do the right thing," of course, is a reference to Lee's Oscar-nominated 1989 film by that name about racial tensions boiling over in a Brooklyn neighborhood. Racial injustice is a recurring theme in Lee's films.

Though he didn't mention President Trump by name, the implication was clear, and Mr. Trump did not appreciate it. The president posted on Twitter Monday: "Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President, who has done more for African Americans (Criminal Justice Reform, Lowest Unemployment numbers in History, Tax Cuts,etc.) than almost any other Pres!"

Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President, who has done more for African Americans (Criminal Justice Reform, Lowest Unemployment numbers in History, Tax Cuts,etc.) than almost any other Pres!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2019

This was the only moment from the Oscars the president addressed on Twitter, despite several other people mentioning politics during the awards ceremony. While announcing the nominees for best foreign language film, Javier Bardem said in Spanish, "There are no borders or walls that can restrain ingenuity and talent," a veiled reference to President Trump's proposed border wall.

Another reference to the border wall came during the opening remarks by Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. "Just a quick update, in case you're confused: There is no host tonight, there won't be a popular movie category, and Mexico is not paying for the wall," Rudolph quipped.

While President Trump did not directly respond to anything said in other speeches, he did tweet about the border wall Monday morning, reiterating his claim that there is a national emergency at the border.

We have a State of Emergency at our Southern Border. Border Patrol, our Military and local Law Enforcement are doing a great job, but without the Wall, which is now under major construction, you cannot have Border Security. Drugs, Gangs and Human Trafficking must be stopped!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2019

First published on February 25, 2019 / 12:27 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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