A discussion on “CNN Tonight” about remarks attributed to President Trump that have been widely condemned as racist took a turn for the extremely tense Thursday night, after one of the episode’s panel guests insulted host Don Lemon.
“This is CNN Tonight, I’m Don Lemon. The President of the United States is racist. A lot of us already knew that.” So began Lemon, bringing up the the Washington Post report Thursday afternoon that during an impromptu meeting with GOP lawmakers to discuss immigration reform, Trump asked “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?,” and went on to say that the country should instead bring more people from countries like Norway.
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Right wing radio host and Trump’s Virginia campaign chair, John Fredericks, was the first panelist to speak about the matter, but the discussion was brought a halt when Fredericks first denied that Trump’s remarks had anything to do with race, then called Lemon “lazy.”
After letting Fredericks continue for several seconds, Lemon had his feed cut. Several minutes went by before Lemon allowed Fredericks to return to the show. “I invited you to come on, I like you sometimes, but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna sit here at let you insult me,” Lemon said. “So if you would like to apologize for calling me ‘lazy’ and making an ad hominem attack against me… so if you want to have a conversation with me and be smart about that then we can do so. But if you’re not going to do that then I do not want to hear from you.”
Fredericks apologized, but the conversation remained tense throughout the broadcast, as he defended the remarks, saying that “truer words today in the Oval Office have never been said” and insisted the comments were purely economic in nature.
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“What does that have to do with calling… black and brown countries “shitholes”?” asked Lemon.”You said truer words were never spoken, so do you in fact yourself believe that these countries are shitholes?”
Lemon posed the question several more times, but Fredericks elided, instead returning to his defense of Trump’s comments as economic in nature. Fredericks repeatedly referred to what he called the “scam visa lottery system,” said Trump’s comments reflected what is said around American dinner tables every night, and lamented the lack of education or wealth of immigrants from the countries Trump complained about.
Suffice to say the conversation only became more heated from there — and at one point Fredericks refused to allow another panel guest to speak, prompting a lecture about decorum from Lemon. You can watch the exchange above.
Meanwhile, Lemon ended the segment thusly: “I love this country, but it’s not easy every single night, and hear people call an apple a banana… It’s frustrating. You know it’s not true, you know they know its not true… and as a black person you know it’s racist.”
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