CNN anchor Don Lemon defended President Joe Biden's use of the term "semi-fascism" to describe "MAGA Republicans," arguing the president's comments were "unifying" because some believe they are "true."
Biden drew swift condemnation from Republicans last week after his remarks at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Bethesda, Maryland, were reported.
“What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy. It’s not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the — I’m going to say something, it’s like semi-fascism," Biden told Democratic donors. "This is not your father's Republican party. This is a different deal," he said.
On "Don Lemon Tonight" Wednesday, CNN contributor Scott Jennings criticized the president for appearing to demonize millions of Americans who support former President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" agenda.
“[Biden] ran his campaign on, ‘I’m going to unify the country.’ His message to the nation was ‘we’re all in this together, I’m going to unify the country,’” Jennings said. “And now, he’s out saying two things. One, ‘lots of y’all are fascist,' and 'by the way, if you vote Republican, there’s a decent chance our democracy will no longer exist.’ These are not unifying messages by any stretch.”
But Lemon pushed back, asking, "Can the unifying message be that some of what he's saying is true?"
"I've got to tell you, Scott, a lot of folks would go, 'Where's the lie? I don't see it. No lies detected,'" Lemon said.
"I think there are 70-80 million Americans who would say, 'Just because I choose to vote Republican doesn’t make me a fascist,'" Jennings replied.
"But he did not call, Scott, I've got to be honest with you, he did not call all Republicans fascists," Lemon interrupted, arguing that Biden made a distinction between "MAGA Republicans" and the 80 million Trump voters.
"Why is it up to Joe Biden to divide up the Republicans?" Jennings asked.
"No, no, no, no," Lemon said, visibly frustrated and raising his voice. "The former president every single day talks s**t about everybody, including other presidents, including members of his own party, probably you on CNN," he said, gesturing at Jennings.
"And now everybody is ... all of the sudden they've got the vapors about one statement that Joe Biden made in the entire year and a half of his presidency? It's just, I mean, spare me!" Lemon exclaimed.
"He's telling the truth, Scott!" Lemon added, clarifying he doesn't think that every Republican is a fascist. "I don't think it was the best thing for him to use that language. But you have to call a thing a thing. You have to call it what it is ... that is unifying, by bringing people around to the reality of what is."
At the end of the segment, Lemon acknowledged his opinionated comments may displease CNN's new leadership at Warner Bros. Discovery, which wants to take the network's editorial voice in a more neutral, nonpartisan direction.
"I'm in so much trouble," Lemon said, laughing.