New York Times columnist Charles Blow tore into the "birther" conspiracy theory Donald Trump peddled for years until he falsely tried to take credit for debunking it.
"Donald Trump became the grand wizard of birtherism," Blow told CNN host Don Lemon. "That is simply a fact."
Peddling the false rumor that President Barack Obama was not born in the US, Blow argued, was a way for people to "get their heads around" the fact that an African-American had reached his level of success.
"Part of trying to knock him down was to 'other' him in every way possible, including ways that depended on traditional and old and ancient stereotypes," he explained. "So that was everything from trying to say that he was not legitimate, he was not born here, that on his birth certificate, it may say -- Donald Trump said this -- may say that he's a Muslim. That's a lie. That he may not have gone to Columbia, as he suggested, and did well. Donald Trump also said that -- that people there said they never saw him. That was a lie."
"The Trump campaign has tried the to deny over and over that the birtherism had anything to do with racism," Lemon interjected. "But when you think about it, what else could it be? Because, essentially, he's asking for [Obama's] 'papers.'"
"That's the thing about truth," Blow replied. "It actually doesn't require your affirmation, it doesn't require your blessing, it doesn't require you to agree with it. It actually is the truth. And I don't need you to believe me when I tell you that you are saying something that is racist, because I understand that it is. and I understand enough about history, I understand enough about traditional stereotypes, I understand enough about human motivations to understand this has a racial underpinning."
Watch the discussion, as aired on Friday, below.