CNN's Lemon: Wall Designed to 'Blatantly Stir Up Fear of People of Color, of Brown People'

February 13th, 2019 8:05 PM

Addressing the new “compromise” pertaining to border security, CNN Tonight host Don Lemon reiterated a tired old talking point Monday night in attempting to smear the wall as racist; arguing that the purpose of the wall is “to blatantly attempt to stir up fear of people of color, of brown people.”

He also invoked a phrase used by colleague Chris Cuomo, who argues that President Trump is “trying to scare people” by talking about “the brown menace.” 

As Lemon delivered his opening monologue, President Trump was holding a rally in El Paso.  Lemon accused the President of lying about the effectiveness about the wall in El Paso before reiterating his earlier talking point; describing the wall as “a campaign promise that depends on stirring up fear of people of color.”



Not surprisingly, Lemon played a clip of Trump from when he announced his presidential bid campaign, focusing on the part of the speech where President Trump went after some Mexican immigrants.

Lemon did have enough integrity to admit that “hateful speech is definitely not confined to the right,” slamming Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for her anti-Semitic comments. However, Lemon couldn't resist the urge to call House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy a hypocrite for knocking Omar despite the fact that he had accused “Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg,” three wealthy liberal Jews and Democratic donors, of trying to “BUY this election.” 

Lemon also made sure to attack Trump for “repeating the racist slur Pocahontas” when referring to Senator Elizabeth Warren. Lemon then echoed the analysis of several of his CNN colleagues that the President sent out a tweet “see you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!”

According to Lemon, “Trail (was) in all caps which sounds, you know, a lot like (a) not at all...subtle reference to the brutal Trail of Tears, the forced migration of Native Americans from Mississippi to Oklahoma, a really shameful chapter in American history.”



The monologue concluded with Lemon invoking scandal-plagued Virginia Democratic Governor Ralph Northam, who attempted to repair his reputation by sitting down with Democratic donor Gayle King of CBS News.

Lemon tied all of the aforementioned subjects  together as he declared that “Bringing racism, anti-Semitism, hate speech out in the open is a double-edged sword...It’s dangerous, but it also gives the rest of us the opportunity to speak out against it, to condemn it.” Lemon promised to “remain optimistic and open” but it seems unlikely that he will become “optimistic and open” when it comes to his coverage of President Trump.

A transcript of the relevant portion of Monday’s CNN Tonight is below. Click “expand” to read more.

CNN Tonight With Don Lemon


10:05 p.m. Eastern

DON LEMON: Negotiators are reaching an agreement in principle, they say to avoid another government shutdown. That is indeed a big deal. I want to give you some of what we learned. These are just some of the details that we’re hearing. Of course, we’re going to see if this all bears out. The agreement calls for $1.75 billion for physical barriers, physical barriers on the border, specifically, though, they don’t say wall. It says bollard fencing. But keep that $1.375 billion in your head. Keep that number in your head. It also calls for 55 miles of new barrier, including in the Rio Grande Valley, and a limit on funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds. Money for 40,520 beds, okay? So if ICE can find more money, they can use it for more beds. But the big question in all of this, the big question is of course, will the President sign on? Is he going to, is he going to allow this? Is he going to sign it? We’re going to have more on that in just a moment. This is all happening as the President is on the border tonight as a matter of fact. And we’re keeping a close eye on his rally which, so far, is his standard stump speech, nothing different. That’s what he’s doing, just a stump speech. So, nothing to see here, we’ll move along until he makes news or he talks about this. But we’ve got a lot to talk about why he’s there, to get his wall, to blatantly attempt to stir up fear of people of color, of brown people, as my colleague Chris calls it, the brown menace that he’s trying to scare, scare you with. The President lied when he said the wall was made El Paso…has made El Paso safer because, look at, these are the facts. The FBI says violent crime in El Paso peaked in…1993. It fell long before border fence construction even began in 2008. We all know what this is about. Yes, the President is determined to keep his promise to his base. But this is about more than a campaign promise. This is a campaign promise that depends on stirring up fear of people of color. Nobody is talking about bringing a wall on our northern border, the border with Canada, even though more…get this. More non-U.S. citizens on the terror watch list tried to cross the northern border through legal ports of entry than the southern border last year. You wouldn’t know that if you listened to the President and his supporters. That is according to an administration official. But the President is harping on his wall, doubling down on the racist stereotype that migrants trying to cross our southern border are bringing crime. They’re bringing…crime, they’re bringing drugs. They’re rapists. Some of them, I would imagine, are good people, right? All right. He can say it. Remember, this is what he said, day one of his campaign.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.

LEMON: And some, I imagine, are good people. And now we live in an America where racism is out in the open, right out in your face, right in front of you, where hate speech isn’t whispered. It’s said out loud. And this kind of hateful speech is definitely not confined to the right. Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar apologized today for perpetuating one of the oldest hateful stereotypes in the book, the anti-Semitic claim that Jews control politics and money…with money. The Congresswoman drew a firestorm of criticism when she replied to a tweet by journalist Glenn Greenwald by implying that politicians including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy support Israel for campaign donations, tweeting “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” The Congresswoman putting out an apology today, quote, “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleague who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes… This is why I unequivocally apologize.” She’s absolutely right to apologize. But it’s interesting to note that even though she apologized, Congressman Kevin McCarthy never did for this tweet before the midterms, saying “we cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to BUY this election!” He deleted the tweet but never apologized for it; deleted the tweet but never apologized. And tonight, McCarthy is still threatening to take action against Omar; saying he’s not satisfied since she’s still on the Foreign Affairs Committee while the President is saying he doesn’t think her apology was adequate. So, he has different rules. Basically, you just call that hypocrisy. He’s a hypocrite for saying that because he’s had similar behavior. Deleted, never apologized. But we’ve got to talk about President Trump’s attacks on Elizabeth Warren as well. Repeating the racist slur Pocahontas; doubling down with this tweet over the weekend “see you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!” Trail in all caps which sounds, you know, a lot like not at all, at all, at all subtle reference to the brutal Trail of Tears, the forced migration of Native Americans from Mississippi to Oklahoma; a really shameful chapter in American history. And in a case of like father, like son, there’s Donald Trump, Jr.’s Instagram, also not at all subtle, “Savage!!! I love my President.” But there’s more. Fox’s Brit Hume tweeting, well, let’s call it an interesting defense of the President, suggesting his knowledge of American history is so lacking he’s probably never heard of the Trail of Tears. But he sure heard of the President who forced all those Native Americans off their land. He hung a portrait of Andrew Jackson right in the Oval Office. So that’s a pretty clear indication of where the President stands on all of this. This is all happening as the state of Virginia and the country at large grappling with racist blackface scandals. 34 percent of Americans in the latest Pew poll say blackface can be acceptable as part of a Halloween costume. But Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who has ignored calls to resign over the blackface scandal, is speaking out; telling Gayle King of CBS that he didn’t understand why blackface is so offensive. And he only understands now that he was born into white privilege.

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: I was born in white privilege, and that has implications to it. It is much different, the way a white person such as myself is, is treated in this country versus…

GAYLE KING: Did you not know that you were born into white privilege?

NORTHAM: I knew I was, Ms. King, but I didn’t realize really the powerful implications of that. And, and again, talking to a lot of friends, that has come crystally clear to me this week. I…I have also learned why the use of blackface is so offensive. And, yes, I knew it in the past, but reality has really set in.

LEMON: I want to keep my job, so I’m not going to say anything. I like being able to pay my mortgage. It remains to be seen how Governor Northam’s story will end. Bringing racism, anti-Semitism, hate speech out in the open is a double-edged sword. So here we go. It’s disturbing. It’s dangerous, but it also gives the rest of us the opportunity to speak out against it, to condemn it. To…what, I mean, what took you so long, man? And everybody who’s trying to like make an excuse, it’s okay, it’s a, it’s a Halloween costume. Why would…why are black people costumes? What took you so long? You didn’t realize that this is America? Whiteface is not an issue. Duh. It might give us a chance to heal our divisions, but we’ll see. I’m going to remain optimistic and open. I may have been born yesterday, but it wasn’t last night. More breaking news tonight on that deal that could avert another shutdown.