Recently, CNN’s Neue DayHe has maintained a consistent streak of reporting objectively. Alas, it was a streak that Don Lemon decided to end this Thursday morning, ambling over from his nightly slots for what seemed to be a monthly Festivus tradition of his: complaining that the media isn’t doing enough to attack Republicans. Essentially openly opposing new CNN boss Chris Licht’s reported desire to bring CNN back to journalism and away from Lemon’s brand of partisanship.
The reason Lemon graced the TV screens at such an early hour was apparently due to an interview on Wednesday evening, where former Proud Boys spokesperson Jason van Tatenhove expressed fears of political extremists rising to prominence in the Republican Party, and NYU History professor Ruth Ben-Ghiat said, “I don’t think a lot of people know that There’s an abundance of intermingling between extremists at the state and local level. I see the GOP now as an extremist entity..”
Lemon described the interview as “one of the most surreal moments I think I’ve ever had on CNN,” and echoed the opinions of his two guests:
We sit around and we talk about these things and we — We want this false equivalence for Democrats and Republicans. We are not there right now. Republicans do something extremely dangerous for our society.That is something we must recognize. Americans must recognize that. we must acknowledge that as journalists, because if we don’t we’re not doing our jobs.
Using a tiny fraction of extremists to smear the entire GOP is par for the course for Lemon, but he really raised eyebrows when he said, “We cannot sit here and pretend like, well, Republicans it’s a — cut them a break. Let’s — we want to hear — they have a lot to answer for in this moment.”
This seems to be a thinly veiled swipe at Licht, CNN’s new CEO, who has made it clear that he wants CNN to focus more on journalism and less on partisan politics. “[The] people who are in charge of — of what we — of what the American press puts out, they want to believe that we are living in 1987, this sort of Reagan-esque Republican,” he scoffed. “We are not there yet.. And if we continue to allow that we are going to go off of a cliff and I’m not sure that we can return.”
Lemon made a strong case for this notion by saying that objective journalists should hold Republicans responsible for the destruction of Roe V. Wade, and ask them, “Why they are — whether you agree with abortion rights or not — why they have taken back a right that was — that, uh — you know, that was granted to — uh, American women for 50 years.”
Hopefully Lemon was just speaking too quickly, because otherwise this is an unbelievably arrogant statement: you must be hostile to Republicans for doing something they said they were going to do for 50 years — even if you agree with them.
If Neue Day co-host John Berman brought up the alleged “bleedover” between radical groups and the Republican political apparatus, Lemon took it a step further, “It’s not bleedover. It’s — it’s a merger — they’re merging.”
Lemon closed his monthly airing on grievances and told his listeners:
You cannot expect Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger or — or Jeff Duncan to become Democrats overnight They are Republicans and they must be allowed to be as they are. They’re just smarter and more sober than they used to be.They are aware of what is happening right now in the country and know that nobody should try to stop a free, fair and democratic election. This includes a President of America.
Point taken about overturning elections, but Lemon has created an obviously false dichotomy: in his mind, you’re either a Liz Cheney or an Oath Keeper, either a “sober and smart” Republican on their way to becoming a Democrat who agrees with Lemon, or a drunken and dumb Wild Bill Hickock cosplayer.
He is probably right, as less than half of media outlets believe that equal coverage should be given to all sides.
Lemon’s monthly airing of grievances was made possible by PC MaticAnd Verizon. You can find their contact information here.
Click “Expand” to see the relevant transcript.
CNN’s Neue Day
8.36.56 AM ET
BRIANNA KEILAR – The hearings of the January 6 Committee shed new light on America’s rising radicalization. You can watch this clip on Don Lemon’s show.
[Cuts to clip]
RUTH BENGHIAT [NYU History professor on Don Lemon Tonight, 7/13/22]: One of the benefits of the hearings is to put awareness on how radicalized the GOP has become, because January 6th happened because of radicalization already, but it was in itself a highly — it was like an accelerant. Uh, it’s where — it was like a recruiting place. And I think that — uh, awareness is our watchword to — uh, make sure that we can do things to prevent this from festering further.
There is a lot happening at both the state and local levels. This causes a lot more intermingling between the GOP and extremists. It’s more than just the fact that Oath Keepers and Proud Boys could become the militia or paramilitary wings of the party. The party itself is becoming an extremist entity. This is the main concern I have going forward.
DON LEMON: Jason, would you be open to that?
JASON VAN TATENHOVE [former Oath Keepers Spokesperson]: I — It is. I do. I think we’re seeing it in Idaho, we’re seeing it in the Pacific Northwest where more and more candidates are running that have close ties or — you know, outright encouraged to run. Um — you know, we’ve seen people like Matt Shea and others who really have — have a — uh, a worldview that I don’t want to live in.
LEMON: The solution is simple.
TATENHOVE: The — the fix is us. Like we — we’ve got to have these conversations, we’ve got to be talking about this, we’ve got to stop mincing words, we’ve got to — you know. We’ve all had these conversations on our — on our couches with our family about how crazy things have gotten, but we — we, I don’t — we’ve got to figure it out. We cannot stop.
[End of clip]
KEILAR Don Lemon TonightThe author This is the Fire: My Friends’ Views on RacismDon Lemon. It was amazing, particularly Jason van Tatenhove’s nodding as he listened to the professor speak.
LEMON: All of the interview. And I said to him on the set and to the audience that it was — um, really surreal sitting there with someone who identified in some way with the Oath Keepers — whether he was a member or worked for them as spokesperson what have you — but sitting there with this guy who has — you know, uh, worked with a group who was part of the insurrection, who has been part of the tearing down of democracy, who has been demonizing people like me and you who work for the media, people of color, women — um, and, you know, going into the Capitol and trying to steal a free and fair election. It was, you know, one of the most surreal moments I think I’ve ever had on CNN, when he walked into the studio I said that.
Speaking soberly, however, about America’s current political realities. We sit around and we talk about these things and we — we want to give this false equivalence to Democrats and Republicans. It is not the current situation. Republicans have done something very harmful to society and that must be acknowledged. We have to acknowledge that as Americans, we must acknowledge that as journalists, because if we don’t we’re not doing our jobs.
We cannot sit here and pretend like, well, Republicans it’s a — cut them a break. Let’s — we want to hear — they have a lot to answer for in this moment. The former president of the United States has a lot to answer about. He isn’t accountable for his actions, and they don’t speak a word. That is what they have to answer. Why they are — whether you agree with abortion rights or not — why they have taken back a right that was — that, uh — you know, that was granted to — uh, American women for 50 years.
If they appear on CNN, they have to answer those questions. They must also answer that question if they appear on MSNBC. You must ask them if you go to ABC. It is not possible for them to expect coddle as they present themselves to news organizations or when they are in front of supporters. And so — or of voters or of Americans.
So we’ve gotta so — we have a former member of the Oath Keepers who is saying we are in very dangerous territories — territory. Our history professor is warning us now that extremists are becoming more prominently associated with the GOP.
JOHN BERMAN: And that’s specifically what they were talking about that was interesting and notable, the suggestion that there’s bleedover —
BERMAN: — between the Oath Keepers and they talked about — I think they brought up Idaho and the Pacific Northwest —
LEMON: It’s not bleedover. It’s — it’s a merger — they’re merging. And we can — let’s not pretend. I think people — I think people, even the former President — um, I think even — um, people who are in charge of — of what we — of what the American press puts out, they want to believe that we are living in 1987, this sort of Reagan-esque Republican. This is not the place we’re at right now. We will keep allowing this to happen, and we’ll fall off the cliff.
People — you know, the President Biden did an interview and said — uh, you know, I want to unite the American people. Okay. That’s great. Are you Pollyannish? Probably. Do most people want that? Yes. But that is not why — I think that’s a misrepresentation of why Joe Biden was elected. Joe Biden wasn’t elected — there aren’t Democrats going oh, I want to be — you know, come more to the center and be more like a Republican and not Republicans being like I want to be more like a Democrat.
The reason that Joe Biden was elected is because people wanted sanity, they were tired of the crazy headlines every day, they were tired of every moment looking at their social media accounts or getting a head line saying — not knowing what was going to happen, that some crazy thing was going to happen like the possibility of an insurrection at the United States Capitol.
LEMON: They were looking for their votes.
KEILAR – They wanted their votes.
KEILAR: Uh, I — trying to channel that enthusiasm without co-opting the points of views — right? — of those folks but now you actually have the cart leading the horse.
KEILAR: Now it’s switched on who’s channeling who. Who’s leading.
LEMON: The inmates run the asylum. There are extremists, I’m sure there are Republicans out there saying “Oh no Don Lemon we are not what they are.” It may not be who you think it is, but that’s the state of your party.
KEILAR: But there are Republicans who have — I mean, we’ve had Tim Miller on here recently, right?
KEILAR: There are Republicans who will completely say, Don Lemon, you — you are correct —
LEMON: You’ll have Adam Kinzinger, you’ll have Liz Cheney who will say it, you will have Tim Duncan of — um, uh — you’ll have the former — um, excuse me — the former Lieutenant Governor.
LEMON: That is what the Lieutenant Governor in Georgia will be saying, but very few Republicans would say it.
And I — and I have to say something to Democrats. When Liz Cheney — you know — said a couple weeks ago that she actually agreed with — in part — uh, the overturning of Roe V. Wade, liberals and Democrats were so upset with her, it’s like, oh, Liz Cheney, it was going so great for such a long time.
You cannot expect Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger or — or Jeff Duncan to become Democrats overnight.
LEMON: They’re not — they are Republicans, and you must allow them to be who they are. They are smart, sober, and understand the current situation in America. No one should try to stop a free and fair electoral process. Instead of trying to destroy the Constitution, he should uphold it.