CNN's Don Lemon is trying to awkwardly walk back incendiary comments he made to his primetime colleague Chris Cuomo in front of millions of viewers Monday night.
He's now claiming that when he called for "blowing up the entire system" while discussing the emerging Supreme Court battle days after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, it was all taken out of context.
But here's Lemon's Monday night commentary in context, which appeared unhinged enough in the moment to even get an immediate reaction out of Cuomo of "I don't know about that!" before trying to calm Lemon down by pointing out Americans just need to vote.
"We're going to have to blow up the entire system," Lemon said. "I don't know about that," Cuomo reacted, expressing surprise his counterpart's rhetoric went that extreme. "Yes we do..." Lemon slipped in, doubling down.
"You know what we're going to have to do?... You're going to have to get rid of the electoral college," Lemon continued. "Because the minority in this country get to decide who our judges are and who our president is. Is that fair?"
"You need a constitutional amendment to do that," Cuomo answered, to which Lemon retorted, "And if Joe Biden wins, Democrats can stack the courts and they can do that amendment and get it passed."
Lemon jointed a chorus of pundits on the Left who were in melt-down mode over the weekend, including Reza Aslan, himself a disgraced former CNN host, who earlier tweeted "If they even TRY to replace RBG we burn the entire fucking thing down."
If they even TRY to replace RBG we burn the entire fucking thing down.— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) September 19, 2020
Aslan repeated the threat on Monday after facing widespread backlash for what many see as a clear call to mass violence.
Been a few days since I tweeted that if GOP try to jam a SCOTUS thru B4 election we burn the fucking thing down & since the death threats & Breitbart headlines about my tweet have now stopped let me just say that if GOP try to jam SCOTUS through we burn the fucking thing down.— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) September 21, 2020
Meanwhile Don Lemon is trying to walk back his comments, as on Tuesday night he tried to claim the blow it all up statement was made in jest. He suggested it was just exaggerated, expressive rhetoric.
According to the Tuesday show transcript:
"I woke up and I saw all of these headlines, 'Don Lemon is calling for the abolishing of the electoral college!' But I was responding to you when you said we need people with integrity!" Lemon exclaimed as he attempted to explain his remarks to Cuomo. "I was responding to you when you said we want people with integrity in office and I said, 'Well, then we've got to blow up the whole system, right?' And I said here's what Democrats can do and that's the danger- they can' stack the court. But all of a sudden, I am calling for the abolishing of the electoral college... and that I'm a Democrat because I said 'we.' I mean the American people!"
Responding to reports about him saying we should "blow up the entire system," CNN's Don Lemon now claims he was speaking rhetorically in an answer to Chris Cuomo. And claims he was taken out of context when quoted as promoting the abolishment of the Electoral College. pic.twitter.com/DsBINKcl6s— Nicholas Fondacaro (@NickFondacaro) September 23, 2020
But then Cuomo's response to this ambiguously framed statement of "regret" made things even more awkward:
"But listen, you forgot something very fundamental... A Black guy can't say that he wants to blow anything up right now," Cuomo joked. "People are waiting for you to come and destroy their houses with people like me, your kooky White friends. So you can't say you want to blow stuff up because you're playing into the narrative."
"What is wrong with you?!" Lemon chucked.
So clearly nothing was made better by this, again, considering especially it comes at a moment of multiple statements from never-Trump pundits hinting that violence is coming if they don't get there way.
'Burn Congress down': Celebrated left-wingers if SCOTUS replacement is voted in before the election https://t.co/VcbyPWsDbg— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) September 21, 2020
Lemon made his comments after tweets from prominent commentators urging to "Burn Congress down" went viral over the weekend.