As President Trump concluded his divisive 77-minute speech in Phoenix on Tuesday — attacking the media over its coverage of his reaction to the violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. — CNN’s Don Lemon told viewers he wasn’t sure what to say.
“I’m just going to speak from the heart here,” Lemon began. “What we have witnessed is a total eclipse of the facts.”
During his speech, Trump accused CNN and other news outlets of not accurately covering his comments about Charlottesville, pulling out a piece of paper to read them.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence,” the president said, conveniently omitting his assertion that “many sides” were to blame — the remark that sparked the bipartisan firestorm in the first place.
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By doing so, Lemon said, Trump “came out and lied directly to the American people and left things out in an attempt to rewrite history.”
“He’s unhinged,” the “CNN Tonight” host continued. “It’s embarrassing — and I don’t mean the media, for us, because he came after us, but for the country.”
— CNN (@CNN) August 23, 2017
Lemon wasn’t done.
“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 6-year-old,” Lemon said. “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 added: “If you watch that speech as an American, you had to be thinking, ‘What in the world is going on? This is the person we elected as president of the United States?’”
Trump’s speech left Lemon’s guests, including former former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, questioning Trump’s fitness for office.
“I really question his ability to be — his fitness to be — in this office,” the retired general said. “And I also am beginning to wonder about his motivation for it. Maybe he is looking for a way out.”
Clapper, who served under Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, said he found Trump’s remarks “downright scary and disturbing.”
“Having some understanding of the levers that a president can exercise, I worry about, frankly, you know, the access to the nuclear codes,” Clapper continued.
He added: “How much longer does the country have to, to borrow a phrase, endure this nightmare?”
After Trump’s address, police and protesters clashed on the streets of Phoenix, leading to four arrests.
On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, who had urged Trump to postpone his rally in the wake of Charlottesville’s unrest, did not blame the clashes on the president’s divisive rhetoric. But Stanton said it certainly did not help.
“Unfortunately, last night the president gave a speech that did continue to divide this country,” the mayor said. “He did nothing to unite this country.”
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