Rye’s succinct on-air shutdown of fellow CNN commentator and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski — who during a panel discussion had echoed his old boss’s “birther” conspiracy theories by wondering aloud when Obama planned to release his Harvard transcripts — was a Beyoncé lyric from the song “Sorry” (wherein a woman dismisses her cheating husband’s excuses and calls out his affair with “Becky with the good hair.”)
“Corey, in this moment I’m gonna Beyoncé you,” Rye warned, using the pop singer as a verb. “Boy, bye. You’re so out of line right now.”
Rye has some experience in getting her message across with a minimum of words. Her epic eye-roll during an appearance on CNN from the Democratic National Convention, as a conservative analyst praised Trump’s work on behalf of veterans, inspired the Twitter hashtag #ryeroll as well as headlines like “This Woman Eye-Rolling at a Trump Supporter Is All of Us.” Both incidents have made her a hero to some on social media, though, predictably, she’s gotten some backlash, too.
Rye, a former Hill staffer and executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus who now runs a political advocacy firm, says the reaction has mostly broken down in terms of political affiliation. “So many people have said, ‘you speak for me, and you speak the way I speak to my friends,’ ” she says. “But there are Trump supporters who have said, ‘Oh, you’re ghetto, you’re unprofessional.’ ”
Reaction from inside CNN has been positive, she says. “They have been nothing but supportive of me talking about politics from my lens.” Her perspective includes dropping references she finds apropos, whether it’s Drake or Winston Churchill (she’s done both).
Rye cops to not censoring herself — not for TV cameras or to spare the feelings of her friends or even her clients, though she says she didn’t realize she was in the camera frame when she did the now-famous Eye Roll. “I am the exact same person whether there is a camera on me or not,” she says. “I admit to lacking a filter, but I will always give you the honest-to-God truth.”
The one exception? “I will not cuss on air — and honey, it is hard,” she says. “But I’m lucky that I have a healthy fear: I do not want to embarrass my mom. Or Jesus. “