WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday renewed his attacks on CNN’s Don Lemon, one of the moderators of the Democratic debate, calling him “the dumbest man on television” and suggesting he was “too dumb” to understand that he should ask fair questions.
Trump’s latest ire directed at Lemon, an African American whose intelligence he has publicly questioned before, appeared prompted by Lemon’s assertion at Tuesday’s debate in Detroit that Trump is pursuing “a reelection strategy based in part on racial division.”
Lemon’s questioning of the Democratic candidates came in the wake of relentless attacks in recent weeks by Trump on House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., an African American, and four liberal minority congresswomen known on Capitol Hill as “the Squad.”
“CNN’s Don Lemon, the dumbest man on television, insinuated last night while asking a debate ‘question’ that I was a racist, when in fact I am ‘the least racist person in the world,’ ” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Perhaps someone should explain to Don that he is supposed to be neutral, unbiased & fair,or is he too dumb (stupid} to understand that.”
Trump, who frequently accuses CNN of coverage biased against him, added that it was “[no] wonder that CNN’s ratings (MSNBC’s also) have gone down the tubes — and will stay there until they bring credibility back to the newsroom. Don’t hold your breath!”
While questioning former congressman Beto O’Rouke, D-Texas, during Tuesday’s debate, Lemon stated that Trump “is pursuing a a reelection strategy based in part on racial division.”
“How do you convince primary voters that you’d be the best nominee to take on President Trump and heal the racial divide in America?” Lemon asked.
He later asked Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., “What do you say to those Trump voters who prioritize the economy over the president’s bigotry?”
Following Trump’s tweet on Wednesday, O’Rourke responded on Twitter, writing “Donald Trump is a racist” and sharing footage of his response to Lemon.
Lemon, one of the three moderators on Tuesday night, has been among CNN’s most outspoken critics of Trump, especially on issues of race, making him one of Trump’s frequent media foils.
While a Republican presidential candidate in August 2016, Trump described Lemon on Twitter as “dumb as a rock.” Two years later, he tweeted that he was “the dumbest man on television.”
After that attack, Lemon devoted a segment on his prime-time CNN show to condemn Trump’s name calling.
“Some of those people are white,” Lemon said. “But I would just like to note that referring to an African American as dumb — remember this is America — is one of the oldest canards of America’s racist past and present: that black people are of inferior intelligence.”
In January 2018, after reports that Trump had referred to African countries as “shitholes,” Lemon opened his show this way: “This is CNN Tonight, I’m Don Lemon. The president of the United States is racist. A lot of us already knew that.”
Friction between the two men dates to a 2011 interview, when Trump, then a real-estate mogul and television reality-show star, was considering a run for president and was promoting the false birther conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya.
When Lemon pushed Trump on the issue, Trump said: “I want to tell you I am the least racist. I am a wonderful person as far as you would be concerned as to race.”
Lemon has claimed that after the interview ended, Trump vowed to never go on his show again, suggesting he couldn’t be unbiased because he is black.