Don Lemon Slams Trump Over New Zealand Massacre Comments

Don Lemon attends the CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute at American Museum of Natural History.
Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

CNN host Don Lemon discussed President Donald Trump’s reaction to the New Zealand massacre on Saturday with Chris Cuomo, Newsweek reports.

Lemon talked about Trump’s reluctance to acknowledge that white nationalism and far-right extremism are becoming a major issue.

“I don’t think he reads his research,” Lemon said of the president.

“Maybe he doesn’t know the specifics but for him not to be able to know that right-wing extremism is on the rise is very ignorant.”

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, on March 15, Brenton Tarrant allegedly gunned down and killed at least 50 people at two mosques in New Zealand. In his manifesto, Tarrant praised a slew of right-wing pundits and media personalities, as well as Donald Trump.

While Trump condemned the attack and expressed sympathies for the victims in the aftermath of the event, he later refused to acknowledge that white nationalism is causing violence, downplaying the threat of far-right extremism.

“I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. It’s certainly a terrible thing,” the president said.

Less than 24 hours after the New Zealand mosque shootings, Trump warned of an immigrant “invasion” at the U.S.-Mexico border. Tarrant discussed the alleged issue in his manifesto as well.

In an earlier interview, Trump bragged about having “tough” supporters, pointing out that law enforcement officials, biker gangs, and the military are all on his side and willing to “play it tough” with his opponents. Likewise, Trump has spewed anti-Muslim rhetoric and imposed a travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries.

In his interview with Don Lemon, host Chris Cuomo suggested that Trump’s initial comments may have been an attempt to distance himself from far-right groups and extremism.

Lemon pointed out that the president appears to do “whatever is politically expedient,” arguing that he is pandering to racists among his supporters because he does not want to lose their support ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

“He knows that he says he’s not racist but the racists think he’s racist and they support him and he doesn’t want to lose that support,” he said.

Don Lemon further suggested that Donald Trump is realizing that he cannot win in 2020 with his current base of supporters, so he is choosing to pander to racists and white nationalists. Extremists, according to the CNN host, are a “very vocal and active” part of Trump’s base.

Newsweek notes that many of the 2020 Democratic presidential contenders are seizing the opportunity to criticize the president’s refusal to acknowledge that far-right extremism is indeed on the rise.