CNN Debate Moderator Don Lemon Refers to Trump’s ‘Racist Tweets’ After President Called Him ‘Dumb’

By Zachary Stieber

CNN anchor Don Lemon claimed that President Donald Trump’s tweets about Baltimore and Rep. Elijah Cumming’s alleged corruption were “racist” while moderating the Democratic presidential debate on July 31.

Lemon’s remark came hours after Trump referred to him as the “dumbest man on television.”

Lemon asked Julian Castro, housing secretary under President Barack Obama: “Secretary Castro, after the president’s racist tweets attacking Baltimore and Congressman Elijah Cummings, the mayor of Baltimore slammed the tweets and said to the president—and I quote here—‘Help us. Send the resources that we need to rebuild America.’”

“So what would you do for Baltimore and other cities that need help?” Lemon added.

Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) (L-R), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), former housing secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) , former tech executive Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio during the Democratic Presidential Debate in Detroit, Michigan at the Fox Theatre on July 31, 2019. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

While Lemon is ostensibly a reporter, his opinionated riffs have regularly brought criticism, including from former “60 Minutes” journalist Lara Logan, who highlighted the grey area Lemon and fellow CNN host Chris Cuomo occupy earlier this year.

“My concern as a journalist is trying to figure out what the facts are and trying to figure out what people are actually representing and what they’re trying to do in the election,” Logan said in April. “As journalists, it seems to me, our job is to do that. That is our duty. But what I really want to know, Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo, are they opinion hosts? Are these opinion shows or news programs?”

Trump lambasted Lemon on Wednesday over what the president sees as his open bias after Lemon referred to “the president’s bigotry” and suggesting Trump is a racist while asking questions on Tuesday night, writing on Twitter that Lemon “insinuated last night while asking a debate ‘question’ that I was a racist, when in fact I am ‘the least racist person in the world.’”

“Perhaps someone should explain to Don that he is supposed to be neutral, unbiased & fair … or is he too dumb (stupid} to understand that,” Trump added.

“No wonder CNN’s ratings (MSNBC’s also) have gone down the tubes—and will stay there until they bring credibility back to the newsroom. Don’t hold your breath!” the president added.

don lemon says "racist tweets"
(R)-President Donald Trump speaks to media before departing the White House on Marine One en route to Bedminster, N.J., on July 19, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times) (L)-Don Lemon of CNN at an event in New York City on May 4, 2019. (Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for GLAAD)

Lemon said in June he didn’t mean to compare Trump to Hitler but has generally not retracted or apologized remarks he makes about the president.

Lemon called Trump “racist” in January 2018, alleging the president’s remarks on immigrants from Mexico, his allegations that Obama was born in Kenya, and his immigration ban on countries with Muslim majorities that struggle to contain terrorism were among the reasons.

“For years, I and others have been trying to tell you, the American people, that this man was exhibiting bigoted behavior. I asked him about it a number of times, and he denied it, but kept up the racist rhetoric and behavior throughout the campaign and now while he’s in the White House,” Lemon said.

Lemon went on an extended monologue in August 2018 after Trump criticized his interview with NBA star LeBron James, saying he prefers NBA legend Michael Jordan.

“I just want to start by saying that I wouldn’t normally address this. 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,” Lemon started, calling Trump’s criticism “a nasty, hateful swipe.”

He later added: “The president has called a lot of people stupid, some of those people are white. But I would just like to note that referring to African-Americans as dumb … is one of the oldest canards of America’s racist past and present—that black people are of inferior intelligence.”