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Don Lemon defends himself over segment 'belittling' Trump supporters


No apology — Lemon claims he "didn't catch everything that was said'

Image source: CNN video screenshot

CNN host Don Lemon offered no apology Tuesday when he finally addressed the way he conducted himself during a segment over the weekend where he was brought to tears laughing while his guests portrayed supporters of President Donald Trump as illiterate hicks.

What are the details?

On Saturday night, Lemon hosted anti-Trump Republican Rick Wilson and liberal writer Wajahat Ali on his program, where the two pundits acted out accents and stereotypes in an effort to depict the "demo" of Trump supporters as being what Wilson referred to as uneducated "boomer rubes."

The clip went viral due to the audacity of the exchange, to the extent that all three individuals involved felt the need to respond and Christian satire site The Babylon Bee referred to the segment as a "free commercial for [the] Trump campaign."

Ali and Wilson were both quick to dismiss the outrage over their insulting behavior and reacted Monday night — hours after the video was well circulated. But Lemon waited until three days after his segment to address the matter, and even then he claimed he "didn't catch everything that was said" rather than taking responsibility for egging on insults targeting half the voters in the U.S.

At the end of his show Tuesday night, Lemon said:

"And one final note that I have for you, because this is personally important for me to address this, OK? Anyone, ask anyone who knows me, they'll tell you: I don't believe in belittling people — belittling anyone for who they are, what they believe, or where they're from.

"During an interview on Saturday night, one of my guests said something that made me laugh and while in the moment I found the joke humorous and I didn't catch everything that was said. Just to make this perfectly clear, I was laughing at the joke and not at any group of people."

This writer's analysis

In fairness, Lemon — a consistent, fervent Trump critic — did not engage verbally with Wilson and Ali's mockery of Trump supporters. He appears in the clip to have found such hilarity in Wilson's initial joke about President Trump being incapable of finding Ukraine on a map that he did not recover until the two pundits were done with their banter.

Whether Lemon heard his guests' exchange while on air or not (and he surely did, given hosts' alertness to time constraints), he had ample opportunity to watch the clip afterward and accept responsibility for — or at least choose whether to condemn — the vitriol he claims to so despise.

It is to the detriment of both him and his network that he chose not to do so.

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