CNN’s Don Lemon let rip on President Donald Trump Thursday night, after a report claimed he referred to Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as “shithole countries.”
Lemon—who just last month was himself attacked by Trump on Twitter—opened Thursday’s CNN Tonight: “The President of the United States is racist.”
During a White House meeting Thursday about protection of immigrants, Trump said, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” reports The Washington Post.
“Those comments are frankly disgusting,” Lemon continued. “They’re not shocking, not even really surprising, because this is who Donald Trump is—this is what he thinks.”
Later, during a heated panel discussion on Trump’s remarks, Lemon grew incensed by John Fredericks, Trump’s former presidential campaign co-chair in Virginia, who tried to claim that the issue wasn’t race, or Trump’s apparent bigotry, but a matter of economics. Fredericks told Lemon that making it a race issue was “easy and lazy.”
That is when Lemon decided to pull the plug on Fredericks. “Can we cut him off? Can we take him off the screen?”
As Fredericks was taken off-screen, Lemon said: “I was going to let him speak until you doubly insulted me. I don’t even need to respond to the ‘lazy’ comment.”
He added, “We can have this conversation and we don’t need someone who’s going to make excuses for racism,” before continuing the debate with the three remaining panelists.
But Lemon saved his most powerful blow for the end of the program.
The news anchor addressed Trump supporters who, he says, blindly support the president’s oppressive, bigoted and even racist views and make excuses for his conduct.
“This is for anyone who may be taken aback by my comments: I don’t really care if you are. I hope you are,” Lemon said.
“For years, I and others have been trying to tell you, the American people, that this man has been exhibiting bigoted behavior. I’ve asked him about it a number of times and he denied, but kept up the racist rhetoric throughout the campaign and now while he’s in the White House.”
Turning to Trump’s followers, Lemon said: “His supporters made excuses, continue to make excuses for him. Some of them are his friends and I can hear them now, telling me: ‘Donald didn’t mean that,’ ‘Donald isn’t a racist,’ ‘I think it was taken out of context’...how many examples do you need of this? But he is a racist.”
“All of you who over the last few years have uttered that tired, lazy, uninformed, uneducated response of calling me and others who point out racist behavior ‘racists,’ you know what you can go do?” Lemon continued. “I can’t say that. But you can go read a history book. Because you might learn that people from some of those ‘shithole countries’ were slaves who were brought by force to help build this country.”
Lemon said Trump supporters should undergo some “self-examination” and questioned “what it says about you that you continue to make excuses for this man, no matter what. Doesn’t that make you just as bad?”
The anchor again reiterated he was not surprised or outraged by Trump’s comments. “I’m tired of being outraged,” he said.
“Here’s why I’m not outraged: People of color warned you,” Lemon concluded. “You called us racists or race-baiters.”