In a minute and a half, CNN anchor Don Lemon was able to clearly and calmly articulate just what was wrong with US president Donald Trump’s Aug. 22 rally in Phoenix, Arizona.
Twitter quickly lit up that evening with praise for his off-the-cuff remarks. “What we’ve witnessed is a total eclipse of the facts,” he said with exasperation, “someone who came out onstage and lied directly to the American people and left things out that he said in an attempt to rewrite history, especially when it comes to Charlottesville.”
Trump used the rally in Phoenix to bash the media for misrepresenting his response to the deadly white-supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this month. “I spoke out forcefully against hatred, bigotry, and violence, and strongly condemned the neo-Nazis, the white supremacists, and the KKK,” he said, omitting his earlier remarks that blamed “many sides” for the violence at Charlottesville. “The only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media itself and the fake news,” he added.
At the rally, Trump suggested that he would pardon Joe Arpaio—who had gained a reputation as “America’s Toughest Sheriff“—for violating a federal court’s orders in a racial-profiling case. (“I’ll make a prediction: I think he’s going to be just fine,” he said.) The president also used the rally to talk up the Mexican border wall that was so key to his campaign, threatening to shut down the US federal government if it wasn’t funded. The rally ended with police using tear gas, stun grenades, and pepper balls to disperse protestors.
After the live broadcast of the speech ended, Lemon had this to say:
I’m just going to speak from the heart here. What we’ve witnessed is a total eclipse of the facts—someone who came out onstage and lied directly to the American people and left things out that he said in an attempt to rewrite history, especially when it comes to Charlottesville.
He’s unhinged. It’s embarrassing. I don’t mean for us, the media, because he went after us—but for the country. This is who we elected president of the United States, a man who’s so petty he has to go after people who he deems to be his enemies like an imaginary friend of a six-year-old. His speech was without thought. It was without reason. It was devoid of facts. It was devoid of wisdom. There was no gravitas. There was no sanity there. He was like a child blaming a sibling on something else. ‘He did it. I didn’t do it.’
He certainly opened up the race wounds from Charlottesville, a man clearly wounded by the rational people who are abandoning him in droves, meaning those business people and the people in Washington now who are questioning his fitness for office and whether he is stable—a man backed into a corner, it seems, by circumstances beyond his control and beyond his understanding.