WASHINGTON - The TMZ staffer who called out Kanye West during a bizarre rant in which he said 400 years of slavery was "a choice" tells FOX 5 DC he hopes those who watched the interview don't take the things West said as fact.
Wearing a sweatshirt with the words "High Hopes" on it, Lathan joined Good Day DC live on Wednesday morning, one day after the encounter. Lathan explained that he decided to speak up when West turned around during his interview on TMZ Live and started speaking to the whole newsroom instead.
"If you're talking at me or to me, and the things that you're staying aren't accurate, or don't represent the history that I've been educated in-- I just thought it was appropriate to speak back to him," Lathan said.
After the exchange aired on TMZ Live Tuesday afternoon, Lathan says above all, he hopes that people who heard it don't believe that what West said is actually true.
"It's not about Kanye West. It's not about specifically calling him out or trying to have a great big moment or anything like that. I hope that people don't take this and believe that this is actual fact," he said.
Lathan told FOX 5's Wisdom Martin and Steve Chenevey he hopes those who watched the interview and heard West's comments know that history can't be summed up in the change of a mindset.
"We can change the mindset now, but then it was a different story-- and we'd do a great disservice to our ancestors by believing that anything else is true."
Lathan said it's important for those who watched the interview to know that Kanye West is not out to be a villain.
"He sincerely believes that what he's doing is going to help and free people, and I'm all for that," Lathan explained. "I'm all for artists with that large of a platform using that platform to free people's minds and shake things up-- but you've got to do it with facts, and you have to have those facts in context, because if not, you'll hurt more people than you'll help."
When asked if there was further contact between he and West after the show, Lathan chuckled and said there was, but not at TMZ Live. He went on to explain the two were in contact about having further discussions and making sure the details of what was said get fleshed out.
"But that responsibility is going to be his, to speak factually and speak with the power of truth, and we have to hold him accountable for that standard," Lathan said.
Lathan said the situation has already had an effect on him, as he is sure it with with others who watched the interview, adding that he knows some people will support West while for others, it just won't be the same.
"I think for me, it's not the same. There's a little bit of-- there's something different about listening to the music now. I don't hear the same guy," Lathan said. "But who knows? That's the way I'm feeling right now, and I will freely admit that I'm in my feelings right now. We have to see how this whole thing plays out, and where this new ministry of him ends up taking him."
Lathan pointed out that West has been ranting for years, but what has changed is what he's ranting about. Still, Lathan said he believes it's important to give people the ability to change, whether or not you agree with them-- and it's not as simple as just saying something is wrong with them when it happens.
"I think people do that when they seek to de-power what it is that he's saying, or when they don't want to believe that could be the guy that he is right now. But if he's willing to be out in public and on Twitter and on different platforms saying the things that he's saying and doing the things that he's doing, I think that it's up to us to give him full credit for the things that he's saying and deal with them as he puts them out."