Don Lemon’s recent interview with the nephew of the late Martin Luther King Jr., left the CNN news host visibly flustered and scratching his head.
On what would’ve been Dr. King’s 89th birthday, people across the country took the time to celebrate life and legacy of the civil rights icon. President Donald Trump’s recent comments about how Haitian and African immigrants come from” shithole” countries were still fresh in the minds of King’s relatives, however.
King’s eldest son, Martin Luther King III, condemned the president’s words, calling them “extremely racist” and “dangerous.” His nephew, Isaac Newton Farris, on the other hand, had a difference of opinion and argued that Trumps remarks were just proof of his “racial ignorance” — but not full-blown racism.
“I use the word ignorance – and I’d think I’d rather say uninformed because ignorance has more of a negative connotation,” Farris said during his interview with Lemon Monday night. “But the president I don’t think is a racist as we have traditionally known it in this country.”
Farris’ explanation left the host visibly confused, as he went on to suggest that bigots like Trump can’t be racist if they’re unaware of their own racism. Moreover, he remarked that racist acts and behaviors don’t always equal “racism in your heart,” saying this is largely the case with Trump.
Lemon wasn’t buying it.
“It seems like you’re negating your own argument because [Trump] believes it,” Lemon responded. “In his ignorance, he believes what he says – and therefore, it means that’s what’s in his heart.”
MLK’s nephew maintained his argument, however, chalking up the president’s racism to misinformation on his part.
“Isaac, he’s the president, he has an obligation to be informed,” Lemon interjected, later laying out the laundry list of racially offensive comments Trump has made throughout his political career. “How much more evidence do you need?”
Farris continued to back the president and make excuses for his racist behavior. At one point, he even called Trump a “genius” for tapping into the fear of white Americans by forcing them to talk about issues concerning race.
Lemon was clearly fed up at this point.
“Just because the president is not aware of his racism doesn’t make him not a racist,” the CNN host said. “It makes him ignorant of the fact that he is racist. To be honest, it’s tough to sit here and call President of the United States a liar. It is tough to sit here and call the President of the United States a racist, but you have to do that as a journalist.”