On his talk radio program Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh addressed the “tremendous amount of fallout” from a Don Lemon-hosted CNN panel discussion over the weekend that devolved into the guests mocking Trump supporters as illiterate, uneducated “rubes,” while the host laughed hysterically.
Along with resulting in enough pressure that Lemon felt compelled to defend himself, insisting he doesn’t believe in “belittling people” — a response that has earned yet more blowback — the segment inspired a poignant campaign ad by the Republican National Committee (RNC). The moment has gone viral, in part, Limbaugh suggests, because it shows the public that the left-wing media elite is actually what they repeatedly portray Donald Trump to be.
“These are the people that tell us Trump is unqualified ’cause he’s got bad manners, because he talks in ways that are unacceptable, and these people go out and actually say far more insulting, mocking things than Trump does,” said Limbaugh. “It really is stunning. They say (impression), ‘Trump is offense to basic civility. Trump is an offense to basic manners,’ and then you look at all of these people that hate him, from the intellectual Never Trumpers to the intellectual erudite media and so forth, and they’re just the epitome of what they criticize — and it was on full display Saturday night on CNN.”
The Trump supporter-mocking segment began when Republican consultant Rick Wilson turned his insult of Trump into a mean-spirited takedown of the president’s supporters, with fellow guest New York Times reporter Wajahat Ali joining in. Providing a literally hysterical backdrop to the discussion was Lemon, bent over laughing to the point of crying as the insults flew, and eventually thanking Wilson, saying, he “needed that.”
Speaking of Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, Wilson said that he “knows deep in his heart that Donald Trump couldn’t find Ukraine on a map if you had the letter U and a picture of an actual physical crane next to it.” The line started Lemon laughing, which he would continue to do more forcefully as the discussion went on. “He knows that this is, you know, an administration defined by ignorance of the world, and so that’s partly him playing to their base and playing to their audience, you know, credulous boomer rube demo that back Donald Trump, that wants to think that Donald Trump’s a smart one, and y’all — y’all elitists are dumb,” said Wilson, adopting a southern accent.
“You elitists with your geography and your maps and your spelling…” Ali joined in. “Your math, your reading,” added Wilson. “Yes, your reading, you know,” said Ali. “Your geography knowing other countries. Sipping your latte.”
When the ridiculing rant lost its steam, Lemon said, “Rick, that was a good one. I needed that.”
Amid massive backlash and with the RNC rapidly turning the moment into a campaign ad, Lemon addressed the segment at the end of his show Tuesday night by insisting that he was only laughing at the “Ukraine” joke, not at Trump’s supporters, because he does not believe in “belittling people.”
“And one final note that I have for you, because this is personally important to me to address this, OK?” Lemon said at the end of his show Tuesday night. “Anyone, ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you, I don’t believe in belittling people, belittling anyone for who they are, what they believe, or where they are from. During an interview on Saturday night, one of my guests said something that made me laugh and while in the moment, I found that joke humorous. And I didn’t catch everything that was said. Just to make this perfectly clear, I was laughing at the joke and not at any group of people.”
Like many others on the right, Rush wasn’t buying it. “Don, admit it. You were laughing at the characterization of Trump voters ’cause that’s what got you off, Don,” said Limbaugh. “That’s what you loved!”
Limbuagh then read a tweet from Ivanka Trump reacting to the viral video: “You consistently make fun of half the country and then complain that it is divided. The arrogance, mocking accents and smug ridicule of this nation’s ‘Real Elites’ is disgusting.”
You consistently make fun of half the country and then complain that it is divided.
The arrogance, mocking accents and smug ridicule of this nation’s ‘Real Elites’ is disgusting. https://t.co/p3RQzymx4s
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) January 28, 2020
After playing Lemon’s non-apology, and subjecting it to his own mockery, Limbaugh said, “I’ll tell you something else. Don Lemon does belittle people. He calls Trump voters neo-Nazis. He calls them racists. He belittles people. All of CNN does. There isn’t anybody on CNN that does not engage in this kind of behavior. I mean, it’s what CNN has become known for.”
Transcript via RushLimbaugh.com