On Wednesday night, President Biden was granted the second town hall of his presidency (with the first in February and the third in the last year) by his adoring fanboys and girls at CNN and, not surprisingly, the Jeffrey Zucker-led network made sure that the 80-minute event was little more than a foot-massage (or smelling of the hair since that suits his fancy).
Along with an eight-to-three split in Democrat to Republican audience questioners, CNN Tonight host Don Lemon repeatedly inserted himself in trying to help Biden along, press him from the left, and offer only one real challenging moment.
The most noteworthy audience question and Lemon interjection came with the eighth question as Cory Marcum (who was likely a Democrat, though Lemon never gave him a label) drew applause when asked if it was “logical to get rid of the filibuster so we can protect our democracy and secure the right to vote” in the face of the GOP “efforts to restrict voting rights.”
The far-left CNN host took this opening and ran with it, channeling Joy Reid in lecturing Biden to axe the Senate’s “Jim Crow relic” and honor “people who fought and died” to ensure people of all races could vote because the election integrity proposals supposedly harken back to asking Black votes to guess beans in a jar or bubbles on soap (click “expand”):
LEMON: But let me — let me talk to you about that because —
BIDEN: Let me finish my answer because I'd tell you what I would do, I would go back to that where you have to maintain the floor. You have to stand there and talk and hold the floor. You can't just say it now.
LEMON: — I understand that. But what difference does that make if you hold the floor for a day or a year, what difference does it make? Here’s the thing for me. You talked about people and this is important for people who look like me. [APPLAUSE] My grandmother would sit around when I was a kid, 5th grade, had a 5th grade education. I learned that she couldn't read when I was doing my homework. She would tell me stories about people asking her to count the number of jelly beans in the jar.
LEMON: — or the soap in — so why is protecting the filibuster, is that more important than protecting voting rights, especially for people who fought and died for that?
LEMON: But isn't that the only way you're going to get it done right now?
BIDEN: No, I don't believe that. I think we can get that done.
LEMON: If you — if you — you agree with the former President, he has called — as you called him, your old boss, that it is a relic of Jim Crow.
BIDEN: It is.
LEMON: If it's a relic of Jim Crow, it's been used to fight against civil rights legislation historically. Why protect it?
Rewind to the beginning and the event started with two questions from Lemon and two more from audience members (one of each party) about the coronavirus pandemic and vaccinations.
In chronological order, the first questions of note came next as a Democrat wanted to know how Biden was “working towards convincing” people in the Black community “that the vaccine is safe.”
Whether CNN knew it or not, that question likely came as a shock to viewers as they probably thought only right-leaning Americans have rejected the vaccines.
Lemon and Biden continued to banter about vaccinations, but two of the next three questions were from Republicans and astutely pointed to sources of concern in our economy (click “expand”):
DANIELLE LIPPI [Republican]: So my question is the economy is picking up significantly as it reopens from the pandemic. Are you concerned about the higher inflation prices, especially as we see gasoline, automotive, and food prices increase rapidly? What is your administration doing to help prevent the economy from overheating such as the poor and middle class are not hurt by the higher prices of goods in the long run?
JOHN LANNI [Republican]: We employ hundreds of hard-working team members throughout the state of Ohio and throughout the country. And we're looking to hire more every day as we try to restart our restaurant business. The entire industry, amongst other industries, continue to struggle to find employees. How do you and the Biden administration plan to incentivize those who haven't returned to work yet? Hiring is our top priority right now.
In Lanni’s case, Biden spent the next five minutes ridiculing him and the restaurant industry as something out of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, insinuating he’ll be out of business if he and his cohorts refuse to pay workers at least $15/hour in pre-tips. Oh, and Biden suggested Lanni was ungrateful because “we kept you open” with “billions of dollars” in aid.
It was here that Lemon actually pushed back, reminding him that Lanni owns 39 restaurants and thus he’s willing to put a lot of people to work.
In between those questions, there was another Democrat and she said she was “dismayed at how often Democratic plans for...are held hostage by the utopian need to gain bipartisan support” and thus urged Biden to realize that “abandon[ing] the need for bipartisanship” is “the right answer.”
Skipping past a Democrat’s concern about a bridge spanning Kentucky and Ohio and the filibuster question, Lemon used the ninth audience question (from another Democrat) about gun violence to assist Team Biden by giving the President the next 10 minutes of screentime to insist he and his administration is concerned about rising crime, supports police officers, and opposes the #DefundThePolice efforts.
The penultimate audience question was arguably the most nonpartisan as a woman shared that her son had died from a drug overdose involving fentanyl and wanted to know what the federal government would do to “combat the issue of illegal opiates, many of which our young people buy online.”
Offering his two cents, Lemon brought Biden’s corrupt son Hunter into the equation, praising the President for having “been very open about your son Hunter's problem with addiction.”
“I'm so damn proud of my son. My son just wrote a book about how he overcame being addicted, and he did it, and he's doing it and he is in good shape, thank God,” he replied.
The final audience question was an immigration question from — you guessed it — another Democrat and hit him from the left by urging him to allow Guatemalans to enter the country.
Lemon used the opportunity to lob a softball on DREAMers and then close out the evening with a softball about being in office for six months (click “expand”):
I want to talk to you about DACA. I've got two questions on immigration, quick questions I want to ask you about because just last week, there was a federal judge who ruled the program unlawful blocked it from accepting new applications. What do you say to DREAMers who are really worried about their futures here in the United States?
Mr. President, you've been the big guy for six months now in the White House. Can you take us behind the scenes, something that was extraordinary or unusual that happened that stands out to you?
As my boss Tim Graham tweeted afterward, there’s one necessary takeaway from all this: “HOW do these people lecture Fox about being a president's lickspittles?”
Indeed, bossman. Indeed.
CNN’s latest evening affair assisting the President and their ideology of choice was made possible thanks to the endorsement of advertisers such as Citi, ClearChoice, Farmers Insurance, and Lincoln. Follow the links to see their contact information at the MRC’s Conservatives Fight Back page.
To see the transcript of all audience questions and all Lemon interjections (aside from the opening and going to/from commercial breaks), click here.