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Don Lemon's 'White Men' Comment Sets Off a Furor

CNN anchor calls them the nation's 'biggest terror threat'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2018 9:13 AM CDT

(Newser) – Don Lemon of CNN is courting controversy this week with an assertion that white men pose the "biggest terror threat" in the US. And when his comments entered wide circulation, Lemon followed up with stats that he says prove the point in "overwhelming" fashion. It all comes in the context of President Trump's renewed push against undocumented immigrants. Details and developments:

  • The start: While talking with Chris Cuomo on CNN Monday after a white man allegedly shot two black people in a Kentucky supermarket, Lemon pivoted to complain that migrants marching toward the US border were being depicted as a threat to national security. He sees a link: "We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them," he said, per Deadline. "There is no travel ban on them. There is no ban—you know, they had the Muslim ban. There is no white-guy ban. So what do we do about that?” See this video of the exchange.

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  • Backlash: Lemon began taking immediate flak, especially from conservative critics who suggest he was being hypocritical by criticizing the demonization of people based on race and then demonizing white men. "This sentence is like a snake eating its own tail," wrote Jonah Goldberg of the National Review after quoting Lemon's line to Cuomo. From Donald Trump Jr.: "Amazing. I thought this was some sort of joke quote taken out of context but no... it’s just Don Lemon being a moron. Unfortunately this is how so many leftists actually think."
  • Doubling down: On Wednesday, Lemon acknowledged that his statement made people angry. "But let's put emotion aside and look at the cold hard facts," he said. "The evidence is overwhelming." Among other things, he cited a GAO report and an investigative piece showing that far-right extremists have killed more people and committed more attacks than Islamist extremists since 9/11, reports the Washington Post.
  • His bottom line: "So people who were angered about what I said are missing the entire point," Lemon said. "We don’t need to worry about people who are thousands of miles away. The biggest threats are homegrown. The facts prove that." Watch the segment here. (His comments on the controversy come around the 4:45 mark.)
  • More backlash: The Hill rounds up reaction from other critics, including Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett. "CNN’s Don Lemon has now removed all doubt that he is a racist, hypocrite, and idiot all rolled into one," he wrote. And the network's Brit Hume wrote that he "could hardly believe" Lemon made his original comments.
  • A suggestion: Ed Morrissey of the conservative site Hot Air writes that "Lemon’s formula here duplicates that of other bigoted fringe groups; he’s only choosing more socially acceptable targets. The best option for this game is not to play."
  • No comment: A CNN spokeswoman says the network would not issue a comment about the controversy, reports the AP.
President Trump waded further into the immigration issue Wednesday with a controversial video. (Read more Don Lemon stories.)

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