Charles Barkley has been known to be politically active, having once considered running for office in his native Alabama.
Barkley’s cause these days is vocational education, providing essential job training for industries that have been left with a shortage of workers since the wholesale shift by society toward college and STEM degrees.
Barkley has, through his charitable foundation, donated more than $1 million to vocational education causes, and President Donald Trump has spoken positively about vocational education as part of national policy.
Barkley and Kushner were both at the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference in 2017; the two men met and exchanged contact information, which eventually led Kushner to reach out to Barkley.
“[Kushner] calls me, and I said, ‘Listen, Jared. No. 1, I don’t want to be on camera, I don’t want to see your father-in-law, but I’ll come to the White House if you’re serious,'” Barkley said on the podcast “Jemele Hill Is Unbothered.”
Hill, it should be noted, has been a vocal critic of President Trump, getting herself fired from ESPN. Hill’s podcast is distributed via The Athletic, where she is now a writer.
As to the nature of the meeting, Barkley brought to mind the comical mental image of a large 56-year-old man sneaking anywhere, and it makes about as much sense as trying to “sneak” an elephant around.
“He snuck me in,” Barkley said. “We had a great conversation, and hopefully it will go further … I’m on my mission, and hopefully, he can help me with my mission.”
Helping Kushner and Barkley’s efforts at stealth was a White House policy instituted by Trump reversing the Obama-era custom of releasing to the public the visitor logs at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Secrecy is more easily maintained in the absence of a paper trail, at least until the sneaky person in question shows up on a podcast and tells the whole world about it.
One of Kushner’s duties as White House adviser is to work behind the scenes and, as the Washington Examiner reports, “build bridges with Democrats on issues such as criminal justice reform and tech innovation.”
Barkley’s initiatives toward vocational education were announced last year. Barkley, according to Bham Now in Birmingham, Alabama, has often criticized millennials’ aversion to manual labor on TNT.
As Barkley told Stephen A. Smith at the time, “I’m working on a new initiative in Alabama … I don’t know any black plumbers, any black electricians, any black car mechanics, so I’m going back to Alabama over the summer and I’m going to partner with a vocational school to get more black plumbers, electricians.”
Barkley joins other celebrities such as Mike Rowe, best known for his “Dirty Jobs” show that aired on the Discovery Channel and still does in re-runs, whose mikeroweWORKS charity pushes for similar vocational education initiatives without Barkley’s specific African-American focus. Rowe has been politically active on both sides of the aisle trying to convince lawmakers to sponsor vocational education in America.
It looks like the journeyman just got himself an apprentice, and Jared Kushner noticed.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.