Friday, January 12, 2018

Don Lemon's CNN Tonight Opening Statement About Trump's Shithole Countries Comment (video & unofficial transcript)

Edited by Azizi Powell

As those who are familiar with this pancocojams blog know, I rarely focus on political subjects. Also, as those who are familiar with this blog know, I screen out profanity in comments and don't feature any videos that include profanity. This post is an exception to both of those rules.

This pancocojams post showcases a video of CNN Tonight with Don Lemon 01/11/18. I'm showcasing this video because I feel strongly that the entire clip of that news show should be watched and heard, but in particular I believe that Don Lemon's opening statements are just as eloquent and historically important as the Golden Globes acceptance speech that Oprah Winfrey gave which I featured in another pancocojams post last week ( Oprah Winfrey's Golden Globes Cecil B. DeMille Award Acceptance Speech (2018) with full transcript).

This post includes my transcription of host Don Lemon's opening statements (cold open/monologue) for that segment of that news program, prior to the segments with the political correspondents.

This post also include segments with a panel of guest political commentators.

The content of this post is presented for historical, socio-cultural, and political purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Don Lemon, and thanks to all the non-racist participants in that television segment.
Click for context information about Don Lemon's statement.

SHOWCASE VIDEO: CNN Tonight with Don Lemon 01/11/18 | CNN News Today January 11, 2018

Amanda Scott, Published on Jan 11, 2018

"This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

The president of the United States is racist. A lot of us already knew that.

Today, President Trump talking with lawmakers in the oval office about immigrants from Haiti, from El Salvador, and from Africa said-and I quote-“Why are we having all those people from shithole countries come here?”

But you know who he said he would welcome here? He said, "The U.S. should bring in more people from countries like Norway."

And CNN has been told that he went on to say “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.”

Those comments are frankly, disgusting.

There’s other language I’d like to use, but we are on television.

But you know what, they’re not shocking, not even really surprising. Because this is who Donald Trump is. This is what he thinks. Apparently, we have to go through this repertoire every time he says something like this, or exhibits some racist behavior.

This is a man who in the oval office last year said that Nigerian immigrants should, in his words, “go back to their huts”.

Who in that same meeting said “All Haitian immigrants have AIDs”.

A man who bases his entire political career -for years- on the racist birther lie that President Barack Obama was born in Africa.

A man who reportedly still believes that to this day.

A man who started his campaign trashing Mexicans and then made the Muslim ban a centerpiece of his bid.

A man who responded to White supremacists who killed a young woman in Charlottesville by claiming, in his words, “very fine people on both sides”.

A man who responded to protests by Black NFL players by calling them quote “sons of bitches”.

Do we go on with all of this? I -I get tired of saying it.

This is a man who today complained about immigrants who quote “are from shithole countries”.
Tonight a White House official told CNN that they’re not worried. They think that this is good for them. And the President’s comments will actually resonate with his base.


Admitting that for all their talk about making America great, the President is playing to a base that welcomes his racism and will enjoy it. And that is disgraceful.

With that said, here’s what’s worse. And probably the most important point. So gather around the television everyone. And this is for anyone who may be taken aback by my comments. I want to be very clear here. I don’t really care if you are. I hope you are.

For years now-it has been, you know, two and a half years since he officially entered the political arena.

For years I and others have been trying to tell you the American people that this man was exhibiting bigoted behavior.

I asked him about a number of times and he denied it. But kept up the racist rhetoric and behavior throughout the campaign and now while he’s in the White House. His supporters made excuses, continue to make excuses for him. Some of the people I personally know. Some of them are his friends, as a matter of fact. And I can hear them now telling me “Oh, Don. Donald didn’t mean that. Donald isn’t a racist.”. Or people who don’t know him “I don’t think that was what he said. It was taken out of context. I’m not sure.”

Well, how many examples do you need of this?

But he is a racist.

And for all of you who over the last few years have uttered that tired, lazy, uniformed, uneducated, ignorant response of calling me and others who point out racist behavior racist, you know what, you can go do?

I can’t say that. But you can go read a book- a history book. Because you might learn that people from some of those shithold countries were slaves who were brought here by force to help build this country. And then start your learning process from there.

You also might want to do some self-examination. What does it say about you that no matter what, no matter what, you continue to make excuses for this man, for his vile behavior, his sort of vile behavior? Doesn’t that make you just as bad, if not worse than him?

And I have to be honest. I was , I was not shocked that Donald Trump reportedly called the majority of Black and Hispanic countries or continents “shitoles.'” I wasn’t shocked. I’m not I’m really not outraged. I’m not outraged. I’m tired of being outraged, as a matter of fact. I’ve been outraged too many times. It’s more important to be strategic than to be outraged. Some people can be outraged, but it’s more important for level headed people to be strategic rather than outraged. Otherwise, it becomes a sky-is-falling situation every time he says something dumb or stupid or racist.

Here’s why I’m not outraged-because People of Color warned you.

You called us racist or race baiters.

I’m not mad that you called me those things because I’m not one of them.

So why are you mad if someone calls you a racist if you know you’re not one? Think about that.

If you know you’re not a racist then why are you made about it when someone calls out racism?

What does that say about you?

You know what those Black and Brown folks who you called racist are saying now?

They’re saying “You bought it. You own it.”

And as we say in the South-you know what this means- “Bless your heart”."
This monologue (as Don Lemon referred to it later in that clip) occurs from the beginning of that video to 5:26 of that video clip.

Portions of my transcription are gleaned from these two articles: Don Lemon slams Trump and his supporters: 'The president of the United States is racist' by DEREK LAWRENCE January 11, 2018 AT 11:29 PM EST

and Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon Call Trump ‘Racist’ Over ‘S-thole Countries’ Remark; By Erin Nyren JANUARY 11, 2018 8:45PM PT

Additions and corrections to this transcription are welcome.

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  1. As explanation, here's the usual meaning in the United States for the racial/ethnic referents "Black and Brown":

    Black = African Americans and other Black people

    Brown = usually means Latino/a (Hispanics), but also is a referent for other populations with "brown" skin such as some people of Middle Eastern ancestry

  2. Here's an explanation for the saying "Bless your heart" that CNN news host Don Lemon said to end his opening statement about Trump's "Shithole Countries" comment:

    David Durrett, I know some words from a few languages
    Answered Sep 1
    ..."To truly understand it, you have to know that many if not most Southerners really do truly care about strangers in a way that often makes those foreign to our culture uncomfortable, as they perceive it as being insincere.

    When we wave at strangers, and smile at them, or use comments like “Bless your heart”, or call people dear or honey, we often genuinely mean to be kind, and are approaching the interaction from a place of respect.


    Polite manners in the South mean that you don’t say negative things to or about people, and coded euphemisms arise to deal with such situations; so to understand “bless your heart”, you certainly must take the phrase into context: “You poor darling, you lost your way? Well, bless your heart” means absolutely the opposite of “So, you think all Southerners are redneck racists that run around barefoot and ignorant? Well, bless your heart.”.

    Here, the first genuinely means something like “May God find it in Himself to bless your heart, and may you have a good life”.

    The second one means something much closer to “Fuck you.”, I might expand that sentence more like, “Well, I certainly hope that God will bless your heart, because no one else will.”

    I would sincerely like to re-iterate that anyone that is not a native English speaker should avoid using the expression, because it may not be taken as intended, but I would also extend that to anyone not a native Southerner, as well.

    It truly does take decades of living in the South to acclimate to the way Southerners do and think about things, and the worst offenders are those that mistakenly think they understand, when they absolutely do not.

    When someone says “bless your heart” in the South, unless they sound sarcastic, or their voice is dripping with hatred, assume they just “wish you well”, there’s usually no need to read anything more into it.

    That said, there will be some that tell you “Bless your heart” the same way a Northerner would say “Have a nice day”, and those people you may want to back away from slowly so you don’t get a metaphorical knife in the back.

    It should never be texted, ever.

    “Bless your heart”.

    (Meant with all of the sweetest intentions, truly.)"