In a tweet over the weekend, President Donald Trump called CNN's Don Lemon "the dumbest man on television."
Lemon did not respond to the president's tweet right away. But last night, during his first show since the president launched his attack, he took the president to task for his history of racially charged statements, his habit of coddling white supremacists, and his tendency to undermine the free press.
Donald Trump, said Lemon, "divides by race and tries to conquer decency by smearing and besmirching the truth."
“As a journalist, I don’t really like being the story here," Lemon said, "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."
Lemon, who called Trump's comments toward him and Lebron James a "hateful, nasty swipe," added:
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.
Elsewhere, he said:
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.
To support this point, he quoted a tweet from Keith Boykin, who listed the insults Trump has used to refer to people of color. Trump, for example, notoriously referred to Haiti and African countries as "shitholes" during a meeting in January. He also called Mexicans "rapists"––and often––while on the campaign trail. He even insisted that the Central Park Five, four African American juveniles and one Hispanic juvenile who were convicted of a rape and assault they did not commit, were guilty anyway, even though a convicted rapist and murderer already serving a life sentence in prison confessed to the crime and DNA evidence confirmed his guilt.
Lemon continued: "Notice a pattern? This president constantly denigrates people of color and women, too," before referring to more comments Trump made about California Representative Maxine Waters. He reminded viewers that Trump spent years "denying the legitimacy of America's first black president" by propagating "birther" conspiracy theories.
“Let me not mince words here,” Lemon said. “This president traffics in racism. And is fueled by bullying.” He noted that around the nation, people of color are being “attacked by their fellow citizens who feel emboldened to be publicly racist, because the president is.”
Praise for Lemon––and reaffirmation of the points he made during his broadcast––has poured in since the president's attack.
The president has not responded to Lemon's comments yet, though the likelihood that he will is high.
Yesterday, a caller to C-SPAN threatened, on a live broadcast, to shoot Lemon and his colleague, Brian Stelter. The caller claimed that Stelter and Lemon were “calling Trump supporters all racists.”
"They don’t even know these Americans out here and they are calling us racists because we voted for Trump? Come on. Give me a break," said the caller who referred to himself as "Don." "They started the war. I see them, I’m going to shoot them.”
Just yesterday, Trump referred to the media as "dangerous," and the news of the threat comes after some members of his administration––including his daughter, presidential adviser Ivanka––attempted to walk back his assertions that the media is "the enemy of the people."