CNN host Don Lemon defended far-left Antifa protesters who hounded Sen. Ted Cruz from a restaurant Tuesday, on the basis that Cruz’s policies are allegedly “detrimental” to people.
During CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time, host Chris Cuomo played a video clip of Cruz being harassed and hounded while out with his wife at a restaurant in Washington D.C. and asked Don Lemon for his thoughts.
Protesters from the Antifa group “Smash Racism DC” surrounded Cruz and his wife Heidi, shouting “We believe survivors!”
BREAKING. Activists just chased @TedCruz out of a fancy Washington DC restaurant, chanting “We Believe Survivors!”
Cruz has been friends with creep Kavanaugh for 20 years. Now Cruz is on judiciary committee hearing his testimony.
— Smash Racism DC (@SmashRacismDC) September 25, 2018
“Cruz has been friends with creep Kavanaugh for 20 years. Now Cruz is on judiciary committee hearing his testimony. Fascists not welcome! #CancelKavanugh,” the group said in a tweet with the video clip.
Even Cruz’s opponent in the upcoming Senate race, Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke, condemned the harassment.
“Not right that Senator Cruz and his wife Heidi were surrounded and forced to leave a restaurant last night because of protesters. The Cruz family should be treated with respect,” O’Rourke tweeted.
Not right that Senator Cruz and his wife Heidi were surrounded and forced to leave a restaurant last night because of protesters. The Cruz family should be treated with respect.
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) September 25, 2018
However, CNN’s Don Lemon had a different take, telling Chris Cuomo that although he doesn’t “like” the behavior, it’s “what [Cruz] signed up for.”
It’s a tough one, Chris. Because, one, it’s survivors, right? Of sexual abuse. I’m one. As a person of color, I know that, especially during the Civil Rights movement, and now, sometimes the only agency you have is to protest, and to get in someone’s face. You don’t have any power when it comes to government and in society. I don’t like it, but it is one reason I’m not a public official, that I’m not running for office. In a way, I think it goes with the territory. I don’t like that they were blocking his wife, but, that’s what he signed up for. And as a strict Constitutionalist, which Ted Cruz is, he knows that it’s protected under the First Amendment. Again, I don’t like it, I wouldn’t want it to happen to me, I don’t like it happening to his wife. But he…that’s what he signed up for. That’s part of the deal.
It’s one thing to say that politicians are public servants and therefore people have the right to confront in public. However, the actions of some of these protesters clearly goes beyond simply voicing an opinion. The purpose of this protest was clearly to make Cruz feel not just unwelcome, but unsafe.
In a statement on Facebook accompanying the the video, Smash Racism DC wrote in part:
This is a message to Ted Cruz, Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump and the rest of the racist, sexist, transphobic, and homophobic right-wing scum: You are not safe. We will find you. We will expose you. We will take from you the peace you have taken from so many others.
“You are not safe. We will find you.”–this is what Lemon is saying Cruz “signed up for.”
Finally, when pushed more by Cuomo, Lemon said:
“I don’t like the idea that it happens to his wife, or if it happened to any family member, someone who did not run for office and became a public official. No, I would not like that–But if you run for office, and you propose policies that are detrimental to people, as Americans, you have the right to tell your public officials that you don’t like it. And if you’re in a space where you’re allowed to do that, then you can do it. Just think about…”
“That was a private restaurant, by the way,” Cuomo responded.
“A private restaurant, but just remember, it happened in the chamber when–President Obama was giving the first State of the Union. ‘You lie!’ Someone got in his face. Was it right to do it? No, but did he have the right to do it? Absolutely. So it does happen,” Lemon said, continuing, “It doesn’t mean that I like it, but I kind of think if you’re a public official, then you need to stand by what you say, and that’s part of the deal.”
Lemon’s answer reveals the real reason he’s shrugging off the harassment of Cruz–because he thinks Cruz’s policies are “detrimental to people.”
This kind of rhetoric from a major, supposedly down-the-middle TV network would be shocking, but CNN hosts have actually defended Antifa multiple times.
In August, Chris Cuomo said, “Two wrongs and what is right. The bigots are wrong to hit. Antifa or whomever — anarchists or malcontents or the misguided — they are also wrong to hit. But fighting hate is right. And in a clash between hate and those who oppose it, those who oppose it are on the side of right.”
Don Lemon himself said some questionable things about Antifa in the past, acknowledging that yes, the group is violent, but that “no organization’s perfect.”
Other CNN personalities have resorted to simply lying about about Antifa, like when CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin bizarrely and falsely claimed that Antifa is “widely perceived as an African-American organization.”