An old adage states: “If you’re in an argument with someone and you compare that person to Adolf Hitler, you just lost the debate.”
Apparently, no one told CNN Tonight host Don Lemon about this idiom because he enthusiastically compared President Trump to the Nazi dictator on Tuesday evening in what Cuomo Prime Time anchor Chris Cuomo accurately described as a “very extreme example.”
Lemon surprised no one when he referred to the 2020 presidential contest as a “pivotal election” and a “teachable moment” for everyone, especially those who believe “elections don’t have consequences.” “Have we learned [anything] from 2016?” he asked. “Or do we continue to do the same thing?”
At that point, Cuomo emphatically stated that “I think you're going to see correction” next year, “and I think you're going to see over-correction” because “when there's an appetite for change, often you go too far in that direction.” His reasoning for that assertion was: “Very rarely is anybody all a lie, even this President. Does he lie a lot? Yes.”
Lemon then compared Trump to “the despicable people we’ve had in history” and put forth “an extreme example:” Hitler.
Now I'm going to use an extreme example. Think about Hitler. Think about any of those people
... If you could look back in history, would you say: “Well, I'm so glad that that person was allowed a platform so that they could spread their hate and propaganda and lies?”
Or would [you] say it probably wasn't the right thing to do to spread that because you knew in the moment that that was a bad person … doing bad things.
“Not only were they hurting people, they were killing people,” Lemon asserted.
The host of Cuomo Prime Time responded by noting: “I think that example matters,” even though it was “very extreme.”
The anchor also stated that Trump’s behavior “isn’t normal because he is different than what we’ve seen.”
“However we talk about this,” Cuomo added, “it's good that we do [even] comparing anything to an extreme like a Hitler” despite the fact that “it weakens the argument.”
A partial transcript is below. Click "expand" to read more.
10:03 PM ET
DON LEMON: Have we learned from that from 2016? Or do we continue to do the same thing. And if you're a person who doesn't support this president, are you going to understand, do you understand what it is that you didn't pay attention to in 2016 if you didn't go to the polls and vote, if you thought that elections don't have consequences, if you thought that, hey, you know, this person is speaking the truth, or they're not going to do everything that they said.
You're right. This is going to be the pivotal election. I think there is, I hate this, you know, this is a teachable moment. But I think there is some learning in there for every single person regardless of what side you're on and what profession.
CUOMO: I think you're going to see correction and I think you're going to see over correction. We see that in most social movements that when there's an appetite for change often you go too far in that direction. we see that in most social movements that when there's an appetite for change often you go too far in that direction. The idea of what you have on TV. You know, you go too far and you start censoring what you have on TV. Because you don't like the ideas, because you think all of that is a lie. Very rarely is anybody all a lie, even this president. Does he lie a lot? Yes.
LEMON: Most of the time.
CUOMO: More than anything I've ever see.
LEMON: Most of the time. But think about --
CUOMO: But not everything he says is a lie.
LEMON: But think about the despicable people we've had in history. OK? Now I'm going to use an extreme example. Think about Hitler. Think about any of those people. Would you say that that person is allowed -- or let's put it this way? If you could look back on in history would you say well, I'm so glad that that person was allowed a platform so that they could spread their hate and propaganda and lies? Or would you say it probably wasn't the right thing to do to spread that because you knew in the moment that that was a bad person. And they were doing bad things. Not only were they hurting people. They were killing people. And so, I just think that --
CUOMO: Well, I think that the example matters. And that's a very extreme example, rhetoric that you don't like.
LEMON: But laws rhetoric and laws --
CUOMO: Could it be a slippery slope towards violence?
LEMON: -- and policy are detrimental to people.
CUOMO: Maybe or maybe not.
LEMON: And it also -- and it also -- listen, for people like me, how this president feels about the Central Park Five that can be a life or death issue for people like me. That can be especially a life or death issue for those people who spent decades, a decade, some of them, or more in prison. They didn't have a life. He took a big part of their life away. People like him who believed it and who wanted it to be true took a part of their lives away. And people -- and for -- you know, demonizing immigrants and talking about shit hole countries and saying that there are very fine people on both sides. For people of color in this country it is a life or death issue. Ask Mrs. Heyer, Heather Heyer's mother who I had on. That is a life or death issue. So, you know, I'm just saying we just need to be careful about having this is a standard rule. This is not standard. This is not normal.
CUOMO: I don't think that it's standard.
LEMON: This is something that (Inaudible).
CUOMO: I don't think that it's normal because he is different than what we've seen. However, we talk about this and it's good that we do, comparing anything to an extreme like a Hitler. It weakens the argument.