CNN’s Don Lemon was attacked on social media after saying he had to “get rid” of his Trump-supporting friends.
Conservatives railed against the CNN Tonight host after he said friends in red states were “too far gone” and would only reconnect if they want to “live in reality,” The Hill reports.
“I come from a red state…there are a lot of friends I had to get rid of because they were so nonsensical when it comes to this issue,” Lemon told fellow CNN host Chris Cuomo. “They’re too far gone. They’d say something really stupid and I’ll show them the science and give them the information but they still repeat those talking points.”
Lemon and Cuomo were discussing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and rising rates in red states, and Lemon placed the blame for the spread of misinformation among his friends on conservative and right-wing media outlets.
“Every single talking point they hear on state TV and they hear from this president, they’re blinded by it,” he said. “Sometimes you have to let them go. They have to hit rock bottom, like an addict. They have to want to get help, they have to want to know the truth, they have to want to live in reality.”
Despite rising rates, he said that those friends “have to want to be responsible not only for other people’s lives but for their own lives.”
“I don’t know if after this I will be able to go back and be friends with these people,” Lemon added. “I can’t do it anymore.”
CNN’s @donlemon: "I have many people who I love in my life … There are a lot of friends I had to really get rid of because they are so non-sensical when it comes to [Trump]. If they’re willing to come back and willing to live in reality, then I will welcome them with open arms” pic.twitter.com/eLsVX1qAdD
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) October 30, 2020
After the segment aired, Lemon was attacked by conservatives on Twitter, who claimed he had been radicalized and was “promoting the idea they you must hate, disown & ostracized your family and friend if they have different political beliefs.”
But Lemon also drew support among those who had recognized similar patterns in friends and family. One person noted that Lemon had “cut people out of his life because they don’t believe he deserves they same rights that they do.”
Another user tweeted that Lemon had “made a decision that many including myself, have had to make.”
“[Donald Trump] is everything opposite of that which is integral, decent, or, compassionate,” they added. “Those who support and stand with him condone ignorance, deceit, and racial hatred.”
Lemon, who came out as gay in 2011, has been a frequent critic of the president. In 2018, he revealed that Trump had once called him racist, after Lemon challenged Trump’s false claims about former President Barack Obama not being born in the United States.
“He had vowed that he would never do an interview with me because he said I was racist, because I challenged him on an in-factual statement,” Lemon said while appearing on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.
Earlier this year, Lemon was honored by the Human Rights Campaign for his LGBTQ visibility and advocacy, with the nation’s largest LGBTQ rights organization calling him “an outspoken voice for the LGBTQ community in the media and beyond for many years.”
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