CNN anchor Don Lemon, who has openly declared Trump a “racist” on air and accused him of “whitewashing” white nationalism, told the audience at a news media conference Thursday that he has been the target of incessant harassment by Trump supporters. The blame, he suggested, ultimately falls on Donald Trump, who has slammed the left-wing media personality multiple times, labeling him “dumb as a rock” and the “dumbest man on television.”
As a result of his public feud with Trump, Lemon told the audience at the FT Future of News Summit, he’s become the target of constant harassment by his supporters. Trump’s attacks, said Lemon in comments reported by The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline, have taken “a toll on me, on my privacy and safety and security, and the security of my family.”
“I was doing a shoot in the park the other day and someone shouted at me, ‘I’m sick of watching you. We built this country. I can’t wait for CNN to fire your black a**, you f****t,”” said Lemon. “So, all of those sorts of people call you on the phone and say those things, or they write you. I don’t go on social media any more, it’s so toxic.”
Along with what he said were hundreds of calls a day from Trump supporters blasting him, harassers “call the authorities and accuse me of doing certain things,” he claimed.
The reason that he’s become a target, he suggested, is that Trump has singled him out and mocked him online. Along with calling him “dumb as a rock” in August 2016, Trump declared Lemon the “dumbest man on television” in December 2017, a line he repeated a few weeks ago.
“Another false story, this time in the Failing [New York Times], that I watch 4-8 hours of television a day — Wrong! Also, I seldom, if ever, watch CNN or MSNBC, both of which I consider Fake News. I never watch Don Lemon, who I once called the ‘dumbest man on television!’ Bad Reporting,” Trump tweeted in 2017.
The comment triggered a quick rebuke by CNN, which complained that the president was “bullying” the beleaguered anchor. “In a world where bullies torment kids on social media to devastating effect on a regular basis with insults and name-calling, it is sad to see our president engaging in the very same behavior himself. Leaders should lead by example,” said CNN.
Lemon told the audience that it’s been a struggle to keep doing what he’s doing in the Trump era, and he’s at times wondered “how long I will continue to do this particular job in the way I do it.”
“I don’t know if it’s worth this level of toxicity. I’m 10 years older than when he rode down the escalator in July 2015,” he said, adding: “It doesn’t mean I don’t have a commitment to journalism, it just means I may want to do it a different way.”
Lemon also told the audience that he made the decision not to “punch down at the president.”
In January 2018, Lemon, who is presented by CNN as an unbiased news host, declared Trump a “racist.”
“This is CNN Tonight, I’m Don Lemon. The president of the United States is racist. A lot of us already knew that,” a solemn Lemon said on air. His “evidence” that Trump was racist: he reportedly called some countries “sh**holes” and said we should be accepting more immigrants from countries that aren’t a mess, like Norway.
“Why are we having all these people from sh**hole countries come here?” The Washington Post reported Trump as saying. “Those comments are, frankly, disgusting,” said Lemon. “They’re not shocking, not even really surprising, because this is who Donald Trump is—this is what he thinks.”