On Showtime, Lemon Condemns Trump as ‘Racist,’ Insinuates Criticism Is Because of His Skin Color

On Sunday’s installment of Showtime’s The Circus, CNN Tonight host Don Lemon was profiled and he lashed out at President Trump as a “racist” and insinuated that Trump’s criticism of him was racially-based. 

Thankfully, the show also profiled our friends at the Daily Caller and, to the show’s credit, the interviews allowed for Daily Caller personality to offer some excellent points about liberal media bias. All the while, it inadvertently made a comment moments beforehand by lefty co-host Alex Wagner look absurdly foolish when it comes to media echo chambers. 

 

 

First, Lemon’s comments. McKinnon arrived at CNN’s New York hub to visit “the tip of the spear of fake news, according to President Trump.”

McKinnon sat in on a meeting with Lemon and his producers ahead of May 16's CNN Tonight and Lemon quipped that, on Fox News, “Hillary Clinton is president.” Standing in hoard of cubicles, Lemon lamented that “[w]hen you have an administration and a President that’s factually challenged, you have to get your facts straight and you have to be on your game.”

Lemon repeatedly was coy when McKinnon asked why Lemon has been one of the few journalists specifically called out by the President, but Lemon eventually let loose:

My feeling is about this President have been known. I’ve said it on the air. You know, I think he has — he is racist. I think his actions show it. I think the facts show it. Does he attack me for that reason? I don’t know. That could be a part of the equation. But I think he does it because he watches every night. He will say he doesn't. He likes hearing about himself from a number of different people in real time and that's what my show is. 

Upon checking the NewsBusters archives, Lemon is correct. On January 11 in the aftermath of the President’s “shithole” comment, Lemon opined that Trump’s base is “worse than him” for having supported a “racist.” In August 2017, Lemon and his panelists determined (without evidence) that the President is mentally ill.

But tell us again how CNN is pro-truth or not on any one side of the aisle, Brian Stelter.

Moments later, Wagner was drinking in her hotel room while having a TV and two laptops set up to watch all three cable networks. Naturally, she suggested that Trump voters aren’t intelligent enough to understand just how damaging and serious the Russia investigation is for the country.

Why? It’s because the Daily Caller and Fox News won’t tell them the real story (as if CNN and MSNBC do) (click “expand to read more):

We see Fox News and Rudy Guiliani saying, there is nothing to see here. That's why when you go to the middle of the country to Trump's base, you ask people about Russia and they say, there is nothing to see there because that's what is being telegraphed by their media of choice. In addition to looking to the cable networks, a lot of the echo chamber exists online. The Daily Caller is a conservative news website started by Tucker Carlson of Fox News fame and that's how Trump supporters get a lot of their news. The lead is “Over Sessions’ Head” and it's all about the Freedom Caucus writing this letter and you see completely separate parallel universes of news. 

The next soundbite was Daily Caller editor-in-chief Geoffrey Ingersoll that actually refuted the failed former MSNBC host’s complaint:

Part of what we do here is point out when the wider media is getting something wrong. That's about half our mission and the other half of our mission is the stuff the wider media doesn't cover and so we try to cover as much of that as possible.

Speaking later with Daily Caller leadership, McKinnon asked for someone to “characterize the mainstream media” and Ingersoll responded along with Editorial Director and WMAL host Vince Coglianese with excellent arguments (click “expand” to read the exchange):

MCKINNON: How would you generally characterize the mainstream media? What do they miss? And what do they get wrong. Can you talk about that a little, any of you? 

COGLIANESE: So much of the press seems to have the exact same selection bias. You know, we constantly joke about like, God, how hard must it be to have a CNN editorial meeting? You just come in and you talk about the same exact story everyday. Like, there’s actually no new information, really. It’s like, you talk about Stormy, like literally every day. “What are we doing in the A-block?” “Oh, we have Avenatti.” “Okay, what are you doing in you’re A-block?” “Oh, we have Avenatti.”

INGERSOLL: So true. The media, as soon as they’re thrown something in that direction, they just pick it up and run with it. They think: “Okay, Donald Trump called Mexicans ‘animals.’” That's what they think. And that's what everyone repeats, incorrectly the media who already think that Donald Trump is a racist. It's confirming the bias. That’s exactly the kind of story that we pounce on. 

COGLIANESE: You know, the Russia story the whole investigation deserves scrutiny that it hasn’t gotten from the mainstream press. 

MCKINNON: So, what kind of scrutiny that they haven’t gotten? 

COGLIANESE: In The New York Times version, for instance of the beginnings of the Trump-Russia investigation, they buried the fact the government, itself, was spying on the trump campaign. It's baked into The New York Times piece and if we had that news, that would be the lead on the story. That’s the kind of thing that needs to be surfaced and emphasize because people need to know that. 

Whether Showtime meant to or not, their profile of the Daily Caller actually undermined the liberal insider-y show and its smugness. 

Instead of making the Caller look like a Trumpian funhouse, the joke was on McKinnon, Wagner, and fellow co-host John Heilemann (who was palling around in Vancouver with MSNBC Republican Steve Schmidt). 

In the end, the Daily Caller’s points about media bias and echo chambers perfectly were juxtaposed with their smug attacks on Fox News, Lemon calling Trump “racist,” eating pizza while lambasting the Trump White House, and listening to Schmidt ramble about Trump causing a “constitutional crisis” at a posh event in Vancouver.

To see the relevant transcript from Showtime’s The Circus on May 20, click “expand.”

Showtime’s The Circus
May 20, 2018
8:13 p.m. Eastern

MARK MCKINNON: I'm here at CNN, New York, which is the tip of the spear of fake news according to President Trump. 

DONALD TRUMP: Media outlets like CNN are fake news, fake news! [SCREEN WIPE] Fake, fake, fake news! 

JIM ACOSTA: Can you give us a chance to ask a question? 

TRUMP: Don’t be — no I’m not going to give you a question.

ACOSTA: Mr. President, can you say categorically — 

TRUMP: No, I’m not going to give you a question. You are fake news. 

MCKINNON: There he is.

CNN PRODUCER [TO DON LEMON]: I’m working on getting those cards for you.

MCKINNON: And I am going to talk to Don Lemon, who the President calls the “dumbest man” in show business

LEMON: Remember we talked about the judiciary today. Is there any place in the show for that? 

CNN TONIGHT EXECUTIVE PRODUCER MARIA SPINELLA: I think that story is a great story and an important story, but so much news has broken just in the last six or seven hours. 

MCKINNON: So is this a typical day? 

CNN TONIGHT ANCHOR PRODUCER ZACHARY SLATER: Yes. 

SPINELLA: Yeah. 

LEMON: Yes. [SCREEN WIPE] What is Maxine waters doing? 

SPINELLA: She’s talking about — it looks like they're talking about Ronan’s new story. 

CHRIS HAYES [on MSNBC’s All In, 05/16/18]: It also says I think the Trump Hotels has brought in about $40 million in the past year. Is it problematic to you 

MCKINNON: This is interesting competing narratives here. 

LEMON: Right. It's always the exact opposite. On the bottom right channel there, Hillary Clinton is president. [MCKINNON LAUGHS] It's true. I, sometimes I swear I can't keep up with it and I will show you how you keep it with it. Shenique, can you bring me the fact check folder, please? This is what we call the fact checks pile. This is Devon Nunez and the Justice Department and I have the scope of the special counsel. If I need something on ZTE, I have that. If I need it on the Qatari investor, I have that. When you have an administration and a President that’s factually challenged, you have to get your facts straight and you have to be on your game and so, you know, he says fake news. But what has been fake? 

MCKINNON: So Donald Trump attacks the media, 

LEMON: Right.

MCKINNON: — and more specifically CNN. But he very rarely attacks specific reporters, except for you and a couple others. Why you? 

LEMON: Hmm. 

MCKINNON: He said some very unkind things about you, Don. 

LEMON: Why do you think? Why do you think? 

MCKINNON: Well, I mean, he generally punches at something that's bothering him or that he feels like it’s threatening him or — 

LEMON: My feeling is about this President have been known. I’ve said it on the air. You know, I think he has — he is racist. I think his actions show it. I think the facts show it. Does he attack me for that reason? I don’t know. That could be a part of the equation. But I think he does it because he watches every night. He will say he doesn't. He likes hearing about himself from a number of different people in real time and that's what my show is. 

MCKINNON: And so you think he is watching?

LEMON: I know he’s watching. I know.

MCKINNON: How do you know?

LEMON: Every single person who goes to the White House, comes on the show, will say, I was at the White House today. I was at the White House yesterday. The President watches you every single night.

MCKINNON: But you’re as dumb as a rock?

LEMON: I’m as dumb as a rock. Oh no, I’m the dumbest man in broadcasting. 

MCKINNON: Dumbest man on television.

LEMON: Dumbest man on television, yeah. Yeah, as I said, whatever he says, it's the opposite. Dumb people don't usually do two hours a night in prime time. 

MCKINNON: There's that. 

LEMON: Yeah. [RUNNING TO STUDIO] We’ve got three minutes. Do this every night. I’m getting tea everywhere!

UNNAMED CNN PRODUCTION STAFFER: Have a great show.

LEMON: Thank you.

UNNAMED CNN PRODUCTION STAFFER: Ten seconds to count. Five seconds. Have a good show everybody. Stand by.

LEMON: It's showtime on Showtime. [on CNN Tonight, 05/16/18] This is CNN Tonight. I am Dom Lemon. We have breaking news on the Mueller investigation. Rudy Guiliani is telling CNN that the special counsel’s team has concluded that they cannot indict —

ALEX WAGNER: Oh, okay.

LEMON [on CNN Tonight, 05/16/18]: — a sitting President and a source close to —

WAGNER: Everybody in cable news is scrambling tonight because there is an excess of stories to lead the broadcast with. I want to see what Fox News is doing. 

RUDY GIULIANI [on FNC’s The Ingraham Angle, 05/16/18]: Mueller should now bring this to a close. It's been a year, he has gotten 1.4 million documents. He’s interviewed 28 witnesses and he has nothing, which is what he wants — 

WAGNER: We see Fox News and Rudy Guiliani saying, there is nothing to see here. That's why when you go to the middle of the country to Trump's base, you ask people about Russia and they say, there is nothing to see there because that's what is being telegraphed by their media of choice. In addition to looking to the cable networks, a lot of the echo chamber exists online. The Daily Caller is a conservative news website started by Tucker Carlson of Fox News fame and that's how Trump supporters get a lot of their news. The lead is “Over Sessions’ Head” and it's all about the Freedom Caucus writing this letter and you see completely separate parallel universes of news. 

GEOFFREY INGERSOLL: Part of what we do here is point out when the wider media is getting something wrong. That's about half our mission and the other half of our mission is the stuff the wider media doesn't cover and so we try to cover as much of that as possible.

(....)

MCKINNON: How would you generally characterize the mainstream media? What do they miss? And what do they get wrong. Can you talk about that a little, any of you? 

VINCE COGLIANESE: So much of the press seems to have the exact same selection bias. You know, we constantly joke about like, God, how hard must it be to have a CNN editorial meeting? You just come in and you talk about the same exact story everyday. Like, there’s actually no new information, really. It’s like, you talk about Stormy, like literally every day. “What are we doing in the A-block?” “Oh, we have Avenatti.” “Okay, what are you doing in you’re A-block?” “We have Avenatti.”

INGERSOLL: So true. The media, as soon as they’re thrown something in that direction, they just pick it up and run with it. They think: “Okay, Donald Trump called Mexicans ‘animals.’” That's what they think. And that's what everyone repeats, incorrectly the media who already think that Donald Trump is a racist. It's confirming the bias. That’s exactly the kind of story that we pounce on. 

COGLIANESE: You know, the Russia story the whole investigation deserves scrutiny that it hasn’t gotten from the mainstream press. 

MCKINNON: So, what kind of scrutiny that they haven’t gotten? 

COGLIANESE: In The New York Times version, for instance of the beginnings of the Trump-Russia investigation, they buried the fact the government, itself, was spying on the trump campaign. It's baked into The New York Times piece and if we had that news, that would be the lead on the story. That’s the kind of thing that needs to be surfaced and emphasize because people need to know that. 

MCKINNON: Some of your critics have said that you’re just carrying water for the President, just basically reflecting his message whatever it is. 

NEIL PATEL: It's not that America needs more opinionated stories. It's that there are many stories that aren’t being covered or when they are being covered, they’re not being covered fairly. 

COGLIANESE: Critics who accuse us of carrying water don't read The Daily Caller. If you read The Daily Caller, you'd have a very good sense of where we are and it’s not to be in anybody’s political corner. 

INGERSOLL: That's some of our function, is to just continuously just push back on these false narratives. It's like pursuing a football on the football field. You want to go where it’s going. You don’t want to go to where it is. Traditional broadcast media, that's where things were and we want to go where things are going.


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