A video edited to turn Don Lemon’s own words against him has gone viral as part of the backlash to a recent segment in which the CNN anchor laughed at jokes that called Trump supporters illiterate and stupid.
The Daily Wire created the two-minute clip mocking Lemon and posted it to social media on Tuesday night. It has been viewed more than 400,000 times and counting.
“Lemon vs Lemon,” the caption reads.
Spliced together in the video are two recent monologues delivered by Lemon on his nightly news show, “CNN Tonight.”
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The Daily Wire video starts with footage from last month of Lemon expressing shock at a Donald Trump 2020 campaign ad that appears to show the president destroying his Democratic rivals as the Marvel super villain Thanos.
“Take a look at this,” Lemon says sadly.
The Daily Wire then cuts to Lemon’s controversial panel discussion that aired Saturday. Throughout the 1:16 clip, Lemon laughs uproariously as his guests — New York Times op-ed contributor Wajahat Ali and former GOP consultant Rick Wilson — joke that Trump supporters are ignorant rednecks.
“You know, the credulous boomer rube demo that backs Donald Trump, that wants to think that Donald Trump’s the smart one and y’all elitists are dumb,” Wilson says.
Lemon is seen doubling over over in laughter before the video flashes back to his sanctimonious lecture about the Trump-Thanos video.
“What are we in junior high school? What the hell? What is this?” Lemon says in the older footage, shaking his head in apparent disappointment.
How the Daily Wire skewered Don Lemon with his own words
The jump cuts continue.
“Donald Trump’s the smart one and y’all elitists are dumb,” Wilson says in Saturday’s segment, affecting a Southern accent as Lemon wipes aways tears of laughter with a tissue.
“You elitists with your geography and your maps and your spelling,” Ali chimes in, trying to affect a similar accent.
“Your math, your reading,” Wilson adds.
“Yeah, your reading, your geography, knowing other countries, sipping your latte,” Ali reiterates.
“All those lines on the map!” Wilson says, rocking back and forth in hysterics.
“Only them elitists know where Ukraine is,” Ali continues. “It was Rick’s fault. I blame Rick.”
“Blame Rick, why not?” Wilson says.
Meanwhile, in snippets from Lemon’s December show, he repeatedly makes outraged faces into the camera and bemoans the state of Trump’s America.
“What? What? I cannot believe that I’m even having to report this on the news. … This is crazy. … This is literally crazy. Are you people insane? … Are you insane?” he says.
“Do this stupid, silly you know what. Play this stupid juvenile meme game. History won’t record this mean, stupid crap. But history will record this.”
The Daily Wire video concludes with Lemon trying to regain control of Saturday’s segment.
“Rick, that was a good one. I needed that,” he says.
“This is meme perfection”
The viral video was part of a much broader conservative response this week to Lemon’s Saturday segment. Trump, his children and other supporters derided Lemon and his guests for allegedly displaying smug contempt for non-“elite” Americans.
However, on Tuesday, a number of right-wing wing commentators on Twitter praised the Daily Wire’s videography as something like the final word on the matter.
“This is meme perfection,” said podcast host Dave Rubin.
This is meme perfection. ??? https://t.co/CiUyUQiWm3
— Dave Rubin (@RubinReport) January 28, 2020
“I’m legitimately pissed off we didn’t think of this first,” said Daily Caller editor Geoffrey Ingersoll. “You win this time, Wire.”
“I was laughing at the joke and not at any group of people”
Also Tuesday, Lemon tried to minimize his role in the exchange, even as Wilson and Ali have remained unapologetic. In the final 40 seconds of his show, Lemon launched into what initially sounded like an apology.
“And one final note that I have for you because this is personally important to me to address this, OK?” he said. “Anyone, ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you, I don’t believe in belittling people, belittling anyone for who they are, what they believe or where they’re from.”
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After that, though, Lemon pivoted to making vague and implausible excuses about his behavior during the inflammatory segment.
“During an interview on Saturday night, one of my guests said something that made me laugh, and while in the moment I found that joke humorous. And I didn’t catch everything that was said,” he said. “Just to make this perfectly clear, I was laughing at the joke and not at any group of people.”
Lemon did not specify which of the jokes he had laughed at, and neither CNN or The New York Times responded to Pluralist’s requests for comment.
Conservatives have generally rejected Lemon’s explanation as implausible.
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