On Monday night, CNN host Don Lemon attacked President Trump in a nine-minute monologue, asserting that Trump is a racist.
Lemon’s salvo was the latest in a war of words that erupted after the president said Lemon was “the dumbest man on television” after Lemon’s interview with NBA star LeBron James.
In the interview, which was intended to promote a public school for disadvantaged children that James' foundation helped to open last week, James had stated that sports was something that unites Americans but that Trump “used sport to kind of divide us… I would never sit across from him. ... I'd sit across from Barack though.”
Trump reacted by tweeting that he preferred the legendary NBA star Michael Jordan to James:
Jordan himself reacted to Trump’s tweet by stating, "I support LeBron James. He's doing an amazing job for his community.” As The Daily Wire reported, Trump had praised James in 2013 and 2015, calling him a great player and a "great guy.”
Lemon’s monologue began like this:
I just want to start by saying that I wouldn't normally address this. As a journalist, I don't really like being the story here but because of how important it is for each of us to stand up for what is right and what is decent, I'm going to tell you exactly how I feel starting right now.
So President Trump is on vacation this week at his golf resort in New Jersey but he's not taking any time from Twitter and apparently from watching me on CNN, which he denies, by the way.
I know this because he tweeted a nasty, hateful swipe and me and LeBron James that we have been discussing here. You've probably read about it or saw it somewhere.
Lemon played the clips from his interview with James in which James asserted that Trump was trying to divide Americans and that James would never sit down with Trump.
Lemon commented, “I'm sure that got him. So as we know, President Trump doesn't like anyone to disagree with him or to criticize him. So he tweeted this late on Friday night. “
Lemon showed Trump’s tweet attacking Lemon, then continued:
Well, unlike this president who lashes out wildly at anyone who criticizes him, I have pretty thick skin. And LeBron James, in addition to being a brilliant, black man, a superstar in his sport and a hero to his community, is taking the high road – which is exactly where he belongs. So since his presidency spews so many insults so often, the president has called a lot of people stupid, some of those people are white.
But I would just like to note that referring to African-Americans as dumb … is one of the oldest canards of America's racist past and present – that black people are of inferior intelligence …
Lemon played celebrities’ and politicians’ negative reactions to Trump displayed on Twitter, then interspersed clips of Trump with his monologue as he stated:
This president constantly denigrates people of color – and women too. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, his new favorite target. But then again, this is the same man who for years tried to deny the legitimacy of America's first black president by questioning over and over and over whether Barack Obama was born in this country. And black athletes who kneel during the national anthem as a form of protest against racism and police brutality? Well, they get this disrespect …
This week marks the one-year anniversary of that violent and deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, the one where angry white racists carried torches and shouted anti-Semitic slogans including "Jews will not replace us." The one where Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old young lady was killed by a bigot who intentionally drove his car through a crowd, a crowd that was there to fight against the hate.
But this is how this president famously characterized that …
The cross-burnings are tiki torches, their white hoods replaced by no hoods and khaki pants, these are the very fine people in the president's eyes. And yes, let me not mince words here, this president traffics in racism and is fueled by bullying. From keeping children at the border in cages to bullying journalists at every one of his rallies and every chance he gets.
President Trump is trying a divide and conquer strategy and here is how it goes. He divides by race and tries to conquer decency by smearing and besmirching the truth and the people who fight to uphold it.
I have wondered … sometimes if he will succeed, if he's the one who has his finger on the pulse of this country. Is he revealing who we really are? Think about that. Is this who we really are?
The overwhelmingly negative response, though, to his unfair and unkind attack on a good man, LeBron James. shows that America rejects what he is peddling. Most of America, anyway, not all of America.
But what about the impact his policies have on those without a platform? Through sports like LeBron? Or through media like me? What about those who don't have a voice? What is his presidency doing to them?
The kids separated from their parents at the border or the kids who don't have the chance to attend LeBron's school or any half-way decent school? The parents who can't honestly tell their children to be proud of the President of the United States? The people of color who are attacked by their fellow citizens who feel emboldened to be publicly racist? Because the president is.
Will the country stand up for them? We, the decent and truly patriotic people who really love America and believe in its greatness, have to because clearly Donald Trump won't.