CNN Anchor Shouts Down Conservative Guest, Asks Him If He's 'Embarrassed' for Some Tea Partiers

CNN anchor Don Lemon shouted down a conservative guest after pushing him to admit he should be "embarrassed" over certain protesters at Sunday's Million Vet March.

CNN played a video of controversial protesters at Sunday's Million Vet March telling President Obama to "leave town" and "put the Koran down." Lemon tried to link this to the GOP as a whole.

"Ben, you have to be embarrassed looking at that video. You're not embarrassed for some members of your party?" he pushed conservative radio host Ben Ferguson, who cast aside the influence of the "small group."

"Who initiated this protest? It was Tea Party Republicans. Come on, Ben, cut the crap. Don't give me that," Lemon responded, refusing to let Ferguson distance himself from the group. When Ferguson blamed the government for trying to make the shutdown more "painful," Lemon exploded.

"Oh, now you are going on to something else. Can you sit – listen – no, no, no, no, no!  Don't finish unless – stop, Ben! Unless you are going to stick to what I said, don't take this and then turn it into something else," Lemon shouted.

And the CNN anchor held the party accountable for not controlling its fringe elements:

"The people this crazy guy, people like that crazy guy, Ben, are the reason that people are furloughed. It is the reason why there's gridlock right now. It's the reason there is that we have a government shut down is because a small minority, a small faction of the Republican party, people like that guy, are holding Americans hostage."

(H/T Mediaite)

Below is a partial transcript of the segment, which aired on CNN Newsroom on October 13 at 6:04 p.m. EDT:

[6:04]

DON LEMON: I just wonder if the Republicans will take the nation's, you know, credit rating down with them. Because Jim, you've heard the term self awareness, right? Self awareness. You said that the President thinks, and Democratic leaders think that they have the upper hand. That, you know, especially with the Republican party. The polls have shown just how badly the Republicans are fairing with this. Everyone sees that except for Republicans. What the heck is going on here?

(...)

[6:14]

LEMON: We want to talk about the shutdown and this week's default deadline with two of our favorite political commentators. You know LZ Granderson, CNN political commentator. He joins us from Chicago. And in Dallas, CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson. So I want you two to look at the scuffle outside the White House. Protesters demanding that D.C. memorials be reopened. They moved some barricades and confronted police outside the White House. It got a little rowdy but it ended peacefully. First to you, LZ. Is this where things are headed this week? Are people this upset as we head towards Thursday's default deadline?

(...)

LEMON: Ben, you have to be embarrassed looking at that video. You're not embarrassed for some members of your party?

BEN FERGUSON: Well, I don't think there's a whole lot of members of my party that were out there. You got 300 million plus Americans. There are people that do things I personally wouldn't do. And I think this is a small group of people who are –

LEMON: You don't think that was members of your party? Aren't you a Republican? Those were Tea Party – Tea Party people are Republican.

FERGUSON: Sir, there was people out there that had signs that said "I'm of no party" and were saying "Liberate America." There was some crazy nut jobs in that group. Let's be candid about it.

LEMON: Who initiated this protest? It was Tea Party republicans. Come on, Ben, cut the crap. Don't give me that.

FERGUSON: Well, I'm not – okay, cut the crap? I love how you assume that everybody that's a conservative or Tea Partier was going to be out there today. And if what you are saying is true, why wasn't there a million Tea Party people out there? There wasn't, because this is not the mass majority of the Tea Party. So I'd say to you cut the crap and quit trying to label with a blanket statement –

LEMON: I did not say that all of the people out there were members of the Tea Party. I said it was initiated by the Tea Party.

FERGUSON: You said members of my party.

LEMON: Yes, there were members of your party.

FERGUSON: Yeah. Did you see – look at how few people were out there. You've got a bunch of
people in this country upset –

LEMON: Go ahead.

FERGUSON: Yet there are very few that were out there right now. There were very few members of the Tea Party that –

LEMON: Okay, let's just say there were very few. So for the very few members of the Tea Party that are out there, you are not embarrassed by that? By the – and second of all, it's a misplaced emotion. Because the person in the White House quite frankly did not shut the government down. The Republican Party, Tea Party members shut the government down. If they should be putting barricades up, maybe they should be doing it in front of the Capitol.

FERGUSON:  Don, Don, Don. You have people that are on record that work for the Park Services that were told by their bosses to make the shutdown as painful as possible.

LEMON: Oh, now you are going on to something else. Can you sit – listen – no, no, no, no, no!  Don't finish unless – stop, Ben! Unless you are going to stick to what I said, don't take this and then turn it into something else. Stick to the question and until the subject -- hang on, Ben. I'm talking here. Then you can finish. Stick to what I said. And don't go on and talk about something else. That's what is happening in Washington. That is what what has been happening this whole time. First it was health care. Now it's over the budget. Now over this. Can you just find one particular thing and stick to that point. So let's get back to that point.

Are you embarrassed for the members – hang on. Let me finish. Are you embarrassed for the members of the Tea Party who are out there on this display?

FERGUSON: I would not have been out there taking up those barricades. I also understand why they were there taking the barricades up. Because you spent more money blocking off these memorials than you did protecting them while they were opening. That is doing it on purpose, Don. You are a smart enough guy to know that when you send seven guards to barricade a memorial that were never there when it was open, that is doing that on purpose. You know that. I know that. And they were mad about it. As a veteran, I can understand why they'd be mad about it.

LEMON: It sounds like you are making excuses. But we'll continue this on the other side of the break.

(...)

LEMON: So we're back now talking about the shutdown with Ben Ferguson and LZ Granderson. LZ, I promise I'll let you get in but it frustrates me so much when I hear so much rhetoric. We are talking about Thursday's debt default deadline with two of our favorite commentators here again, LZ and then Ben Ferguson. We are told the Senate has taken the lead now, trying to come up with a bipartisan solution that will reopen the government and avoid a default. So Ben, let's get back to these protests though. I want you to listen to this. This is outside of the White House today and then we can talk about it.

(Video Clip)

LARRY KLAYMAN, Freedom Watch: I call upon all of to you wage the second American nonviolent revolution. To use civil disobedience and to demand that this President leave town. To get up. To put the Koran down. To get up off his knees and to figuratively come up with his hands out. Up.

(End Video Clip)

LEMON: Ben, really? Really?

FERGUSON: You found the crazy guy. Congratulations. There's 360 million Americans. And you find a crazy guy. And now you put him on national TV. Of course I don't agree with that guy. Don, seriously, did you actually think I would sit here as conservative and act as if in any way I agree with the ridiculousness of that guy saying Barack Obama should leave town. There are dumb, stupid people in the world. Congratulations, you just confirmed it. But it is not the majority of American conservatives or Republicans that believe what that crazy guy just said.

LEMON: The people this crazy guy, people like that crazy guy, Ben, are the reason that people are furloughed. It is the reason why there's gridlock right now. It's the reason there is that we have a government shut down is because a small minority, a small faction of the Republican party, people like that guy, are holding Americans hostage.

FERGUSON: Do you actually believe, because I'm going to name names, do you think actually believe that Ted Cruz thinks Barack Obama should take his hand off his Koran? And you think Ted Cruz and others like him think that --

LEMON: I would say that you should have Ted Cruz answer that question. I'm not Ted Cruz, but I did hear Ted Cruz compare the President to Satan the other day at the Value Voters Summit. So what is worse, saying that he had his hand on the Koran? There is nothing wrong with being Muslim if he did have his hand on a Koran. And number two, if it's much worse to be compared to Satan than someone who is a Muslim.

(...)

LEMON: Okay, Ben, he makes a very good point. He makes a very good point. As I said in the very beginning of this, aren't you embarrassed, this makes your party look bad. And that's – he is saying the same thing. Go ahead.

FERGUSON: Let's go back to what he started with. Which is raising the debt ceiling. This President has never passed a budget as President of the United States of America, including when he had Republicans in charge of the House and the Senate. The reason that we are having problems with the debt ceiling now is because Barack Obama has never run a financially secure government under his leadership with a budget ever. The second issue is this. Let me finish. The second issue is this. Barack Obama has had the debt go up under his time in office more than all other presidents combined, including all those raises under Reagan. He's had more debt added to our U.S. debt than all other presidents combined.

LEMON: Do you understand why that happened?

FERGUSON: That's a fact.

LEMON: You don't understand why that happened? Oh, my gosh! Oh the worst financial economic crisis since the great depression happened before Barack Obama.

FERGUSON: You can't blame everything on that, sir.

LEMON: I agree with you. Listen, the President has been in office six years now, he has to take responsibility for the economy and help get us out. But getting into it is not all of his fault. You can't just make a blanket statement like that. Listen, I have to run. My producers are yelling at me.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014