CNN Anchor Don Lemon Calls Trump Racist

“Let me not mince words here: This president traffics in racism and is fueled by bullying.”

CNN anchor Don Lemon called President Donald Trump “publicly racist” Monday night in a nine-minute diatribe on “CNN Tonight.” Lemon was responding to comments the president made Friday on Twitter, in which he called Lemon the “dumbest man on television.” Trump said Lemon made LeBron James, whom the anchor had interviewed about James’ public school for at-risk kids, “look smart, which isn’t easy to do.” During the interview with Lemon, James commented that Trump was using sports to divide the country. 

Trump ended the tweet with “I like Mike!”—a reference to the famously apolitical basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. (A spokesperson for Jordan told NBC News Saturday that Jordan supports James, saying, “He’s doing an amazing job for his community.”)

Lemon prefaced his remarks on Monday by saying, “As a journalist, I don’t really like being the story here, but because of how important it is for each of us to stand up for what is right and what is decent, I’m going to tell you exactly how I feel, starting right now.” He noted that Trump’s insults of himself and James, two successful black men, reflect a history of black people being stereotyped as less intelligent. 

“The president has called a lot of people stupid,” Lemon said. “Some of those people are white. But I would just like to note that referring to an African American as dumb—remember, this is America—is one of the oldest canards of America’s racist past and present.”

Lemon was prepared with evidence, pointing to Trump’s past disparaging comments about black NFL players kneeling during the national anthem; his criticism of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), an outspoken Trump critic whom the president has called a “very low IQ individual”; and his comments about President Barack Obama, whom Trump speculated hadn’t been born in the United States (an accusation he later backtracked). 

“Notice a pattern?” Lemon asked. “The president constantly denigrates people of color, and women, too. Let me not mince words here: This president traffics in racism and is fueled by bullying.

“Will the country stand up for [these people]? We, the decent and truly patriotic people who really love America and believe in its greatness, have to. Because clearly Donald Trump won’t.”

Trump has yet to respond to the broadcast. 

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate