Don Lemon gift-wrapped a ready-made advertisement for the president’s re-election campaign by hosting a segment in which Trump supporters were mocked as uneducated and ill-informed.
President Donald Trump called Lemon “the dumbest man on television” and retweeted to millions of followers the CNN clip, which shows Lemon doubling over with laughter as failed Republican strategist Rick Wilson impersonates the “credulous boomer rube demo” that backs Trump. The Republican Party wasted no time turning the CNN clip into an effective campaign spot, according to the Washington Examiner.
Elitist mockery on display
Lemon, Wilson, and CNN contributor Wajahat Ali were responding to a dust-up between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and an NPR journalist in which Pompeo challenged the journalist to find Ukraine on a map. Wilson opined that Trump couldn’t find Ukraine on a map if it was marked with the letter ‘U’ and had a picture of a crane next to it, and he then went on an extended diatribe about the president’s supporters.
“He knows that this is, you know, an administration defined by ignorance of the world. And so that’s partly him playing to the base and playing to their audience. You know, the credulous boomer rube demo that backs Donald Trump,” he said, prompting Lemon to burst into a fit of laughter.
“‘Donald Trump’s the smart one — and y’all elitists are dumb!'” Wilson continued, in a faux Southern accent.
“‘You elitists with your geography and your maps — and your spelling!'” Ali chimed in.
Doubling down on insults
Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Fox News analyst Brit Hume were just some of those who joined the president in responding harshly to the segment. Many said that the viral clip epitomized the elitist arrogance that led to Donald Trump’s election in the first place.
Unwilling to acknowledge their poor judgment, all three CNN panelists refused to apologize and instead played the victim. Wilson, who was a consultant for Evan McMullin’s failed 2016 presidential campaign, decried the “fake outrage” elicited by the clip, while Ali slammed the “fake victimhood” and “whining about a harmless, silly 30-second clip.”
Addressing the controversy on his show Tuesday night, Lemon said that he was laughing at the joke, not at Trump’s supporters, even though the former was a blatant attack on the latter. He also claimed that he didn’t hear everything that was said during the controversial segment.
“Just to make it perfectly clear, I was laughing at the joke and not at any group of people,” Lemon said.
RNC’s swift response
Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee did not pass on the golden opportunity to turn the CNN clip into a campaign advertisement. According to the Examiner, the ad splices the CNN clip with Hillary Clinton’s infamous “basket of deplorables” comment and instances in which Democrat presidential candidates Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg labeled Trump voters racist.
“They think you’re a joke. Prove them wrong,” the RNC ad tells Trump’s backers.