Are You Kidding Me? CNN’s Don Lemon Compares Jon Ossoff to Barack Obama

No, that headline is not a joke. Just before midnight between Tuesday and Wednesday, CNN Tonight host Don Lemon swooned that Georgia Democratic congressional candidate Jon Ossoff sounded just like former President Barack Obama when addressing supporters after Tuesday’s special election. 

Despite the fact that Ossoff blew through over $8 million and failed to hit the 50 percent threshold and outright win that the media desperately wanted, Lemon kept up the hope. 

“So, that was Jon Ossoff in a very tight race down in Atlanta. He’s projected that it’s going to be a runoff. Am I the only one who said — he sounded like Barack Obama. No? Did that sound like Barack Obama,” a giddy Lemon exclaimed just after Ossoff finished his remarks.

Former Congressional Black Caucus staffer and far-left CNN provocateur Angela Rye jumped aboard the bandwagon too, hyping: “He’s inspired. Yes, we can, Jon Ossoff! Yes, we can!”

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Even Republican strategist and fellow CNN political commentator Tara Setmayer agreed, stating between the two that “yes, he did” and being only at age 30, “it worked for him.”

On the other side of midnight, Lemon again turned to his panel and smirked: “So again, I thought were we listening to Jon Ossoff or Barack Obama? I'm not the only one who thought that as well?”

Rye tried to move the conversation along, but Lemon continued to dwell on it:

LEMON: Let’s be honest about it. He did sound that way. He is a southerner from Georgia. Obviously the former President had some influence over him because the cadence was almost exactly the same. Let’s be honest about it.

RYE: Acknowledged. On a more substantive note –

LEMON: Ah no, you just don’t want to talk about because you know it. It’s the person that everyone said [they were thinking of].

RYE: I agree with you. 

LEMON: Yeah.

Despite Ossoff’s failure to reach 50 percent, the early spin by CNN was almost identical to what it probably would have been if Ossoff prevailed. CNN political director David Chalian spun with enthusiasm how “[t]his is an energized Democratic Party in a ruby red Republican district and it's going to be a competitive battle for the next couple of months.”

A few minutes after CNN officially projected that there would be a runoff with Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel, Chalian hyped: 

Jon Ossoff will not clear that 50 percent plus one vote threshold he needed to avoid the runoff and now we're going to see what a one on one battle locks like. Obviously, Republicans can have one candidate to coalesce around instead of dividing by 11 in a Republican district. So Jon Ossoff's challenge gets a lot hard, but as we’ve seen, the energy and enthusiasm is clearly on the Democratic side here.

Here’s the relevant portions of the transcript from CNN Tonight with Don Lemon on April 18 and 19:

CNN Tonight with Don Lemon
April 18, 2017
11:58 p.m. Eastern

DON LEMON: So, that was Jon Ossoff in a very tight race down in Atlanta. He’s projected that it’s going to be a run off. Am I the only one who said — he sounded like Barack Obama. No? Did that sound like Barack Obama?

TARA SETMAYER: Yes, he did. He did. He's 30 years old. I guess, you know, you figured it worked for him.

ANGELA RYE: He’s inspired. Yes, we can, Jon Ossoff! Yes, we can! 

(....)

April 19, 2017
12:00 a.m. Eastern

DAVID CHALIAN: You heard Jon Ossoff there, though, He was trying to rally the troops and looking ahead to June 20th as a possible run off date and he said, even if we don’t win outright tonight, we are going to fight on. This is an energized Democratic Party in a ruby red Republican district and it's going to be a competitive battle for the next couple of months.

(....)

CHALIAN: We have a CNN projection to make in this race now and it is going to be a run off election in June between the Democrat, Jon Ossoff and the Republican, Karen Handel, the two top finishers in the primary tonight. We are now ready to project a runoff. Jon Ossoff will not clear that 50 percent plus one vote threshold he needed to avoid the runoff and now we're going to see what a one on one battle locks like. Obviously, Republicans can have one candidate to coalesce around instead of dividing by 11 in a Republican district. So Jon Ossoff's challenge gets a lot hard, but as we’ve seen, the energy and enthusiasm is clearly on the Democratic side here.

(....)

LEMON [TO RAJU]: We’ll see, Maybe they can do it in June. So, Manu, thank you very much. I want you to stand by. David Chalian is standing by as well and I also want to bring my panel in right now. So again, I thought were we listening to Jon Ossoff or Barack Obama? I'm not the only one who thought that as well —

SETMAYER: Yes.

RYE: Well, on a sensitive note, Don, I think —

LEMON: — yeah – but I clearly, though – no no. Let’s be honest about it. He did sound that way. He is a southerner from Georgia. Obviously the former President had some influence over him because the cadence was almost exactly the same. Let’s be honest about it.

RYE: Acknowledged. On a more substantive note –

LEMON: Ah no, you just don’t want to talk about because you know it. It’s the person that everyone said they were thinking of.

RYE: I agree with you. 

LEMON: Yeah.

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