CNN’s Don Lemon ‘Didn’t Mean’ Trump and Hitler Comparison

By Tiffany Meier

CNN Tonight” anchor Don Lemon said he “didn’t mean to compare” President Donald Trump with Adolf Hitler.

Lemon made the controversial comments during a late night debate on June 18 with fellow CNN host Chris Cuomo, arguing that such “bad people” shouldn’t be given a platform.

However, Lemon tried to retract his statement on June 20. During a debate surrounding 2020 presidential hopeful Joe Biden’s controversial comments regarding segregation, Lemon said:

“I understood what, well, former senator, the vice president Joe Biden was trying to say. I understand it. He did it in-artfully, and many times in conversations we do I did it the other night with you when we were talking about the whole, you know, who you give a platform to and when you look back in history, who do you want—I brought in Hitler,” Lemon said in the video.

“I didn’t mean to compare Hitler to the president, but it was in-artful,” he continued.

He added, “I was trying to—trying to speak about people who give misinformation and propaganda.”

He brought that Cuomo mentioned his comparison was “an extreme that was in-artful.”

“I didn’t mean it in that way and I think we have to … sometimes people say things in a conversation and you get what I’m trying to say, but people turn it into something else. And I think I get what Joe Biden was trying to say in the same vein,” Lemon added.

Lemon was referencing remarks Biden made at a fundraiser earlier this month. Biden mentioned his work with James Eastland and Herman Talmadge, both former senators known as white supremacists who opposed the civil rights movement. “At least there was some civility,” Biden said. “We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today, you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.”

Biden’s comments received immediate backlash.

As for Lemon’s original comment, even Cuomo called the comparison “extreme.”

Cuomo started the debate by describing 2020 as the most “definitional” election in his lifetime. Lemon followed with an attempt to shame Trump supporters, referencing a rally in Florida earlier that evening.

Lemon urged Cuomo to “think about the most despicable people in history” and warned him that he was going to use an “extreme example.”

“Think about Hitler. Think about any of those people… if you could look back in history, would you say, ‘Well, I’m so glad that person was allowed a platform so that they could spread their hate and propaganda and lies,’ or would you say, ‘That probably wasn’t the right thing to do to spread that’ because you knew in that moment that was a bad person and they were doing bad things. And not only were they hurting people, they were killing people,” Lemon said on Tuesday.

“I think that the example matters … that’s a very extreme example,” Cuomo responded.

“Listen, for people like me, how this the president feels about the Central Park Five, that could be a life or death issue for people like me,” Lemon said. “He took a big part of their life away … and demonizing immigrants and talking about [expletive] countries’ and saying that ‘there were very fine people on both sides.’ For people of color in this country, it is a life or death issue … so I’m just saying we just need to be careful about having ‘these are standard rules.’ This is not standard. This is not normal.”

“Comparing anything to an extreme like a Hitler—it weakens the argument,” Cuomo replied, “because you are now taking a guy who says things you don’t like and comparing him to a genocidal maniac.”

“I’m not comparing him to that,” Lemon attempted to clarify. “I’m comparing the way you would cover someone who is a bad person who does bad things.”