Cuomo: Calls for 'Peaceful' Protests are 'Dog Whistle' for 'Be Quiet and Go Away'

June 5th, 2020 1:57 PM

CNN host Chris Cuomo spent his closing argument Wednesday night dismissing the calls for peaceful protests and an end to the rioting and looting plaguing America’s cities. According to Cuomo, anyone calling for “peaceful” protests was using a “dog whistle,” proclaiming that what they really want is for black people to “be quiet.”

Towards the end of Wednesday’s Cuomo Prime Time, the eponymous host painted himself as a champion of the First Amendment by declaring “people don’t have to protest in only the ways that Trump and his followers like.” Polling indicates that it’s not just “Trump and his followers” that want to see peaceful protests instead of riots. A poll from Emerson College conducted earlier this week found that just 17 percent of Americans approve of “looting and other acts of destroying property as a means of protest.”


Nonetheless, Cuomo continued to impugn the motives of those calling for peaceful protests: “What they call ‘peaceful’ means ‘passive,’ ‘be quiet, go home.’”  Cuomo proceeded to ponder whether “Trump wants these people to be passive, to just go home, so things can stay as they are.”

The CNN host slammed “those who are doing violence to our quest for a perfect union” as “those who ignore what’s happening on our streets and making the symptoms more important than the illness that brought people to the streets in the first place.” In other words, pay no attention to the rioters and looters. Those actually pointing out that such destructive actions are even taking place are the real violent ones.

Cuomo’s closing argument extended into a back-and-forth with CNN Tonight host Don Lemon. The two liberal anchors praised former Secretary of Defense James Mattis for speaking out against Trump in addition to gushing over former President Obama. The New York Governor’s brother contrasted former President Obama, whom he described as “educated” and a “leader” who “pushed for progress.”

Cuomo contrasted Obama with Trump, who Cuomo claims uses “the word ‘peaceful’ as...a dog whistle to ‘passive,’ ‘shhh, come on black people, be quiet. We like you quiet.’” The final part of Cuomo and Lemon’s exchange made it sound like absolutely nothing has changed in America since 1968; with Cuomo implying that the American people are “not used to seeing a brown face and a white face...talking about things honestly and from a place of love even though we don't see things the same way and don’t have the same experience.”

Contrary to the narrative pushed by CNN, most Americans see members of different races getting along and behaving civilly towards one another on a daily basis. While Cuomo and Lemon spent their whole conversation painting the President as a divisive force, their commentary made it perfectly clear that it’s the media that seeks to sow the seeds of division in America.

A transcript of the relevant portion of Wednesday’s edition of Cuomo Prime Time is below. Click “expand” to read more.


Cuomo Prime Time


09:59 PM


CHRIS CUOMO: I say again, in America, people don’t have to protest in only the ways that Trump and his followers like. What they call “peaceful” means “passive,” “be quiet, go home.” Passive people don’t find progress. Now, you have to ask, is that why Trump wants these people to be passive, to just go home, so things can stay as they are? Now, he and his pawns will hear my words, and twist them once again. “Cuomo’s calling for violence.” You know it’s not true. Nobody’s calling for looting or anything like that. But you have to ask yourself, why are they so desperate to shut the truth down? Why say something that’s as false as all their other lies? Because that’s what they’re about. The ones doing violence to our quest for a perfect union are those who ignore what’s happening on our streets and making the symptoms more important than the illness that brought people to the streets in the first place. People are outraged with good reason. The truth is it’s not on them to make Trump or his followers feel comfortable about their distress. They should blame leaders for inequalities and shame them into doing better, see their massive numbers, see their eyes. This President may play to certain people’s anger but his goal seems to begin and end with himself. America must be about more than one man’s ambition to get to a better place. We must all be in it together to have a new normal. Thank you for watching. CNN Tonight. D. Lemon now.

DON LEMON: I…I know what got under his skin today: two things. Mattis and the former President. You know how he respects the generals. You know how he really wants to be like Obama but he can’t, so, you know, he says bad things about him. But I thought today was really important. And I…and…I got to say something. I think on…I was on with Wolf earlier, and although I understand the import of what Mattis did, I think in the moment, I did not express myself the best way I could. I think it’s extremely important right now that General James Mattis is speaking out. I think people are…have awakened in this country. They…and they’re speaking out. They’re not afraid to speak out, and they understand the consequences now especially after what the President; what he pulled day before yesterday with those protesters and then that photo-op with the bible in that church. I think it’s very important, people who would normally not say anything, people who would normally be on this President’s side, people who would normally stick with him no matter what and make excuses, I think that changed things. I think it’s…what he did day before yesterday and what’s happened in the last couple of days and his division of this…dividing people in this country as you so aptly pointed out in your closing remarks right there. I think things are changing, and the former President, in a matter of 15 minutes, Chris, put it all together very casually about who we are, what we’re…what moment we’re in now, what we should be doing and how to move forward. And this President hasn’t been able to do that in almost four years. Shame on him.

CUOMO: Well, he also hasn’t been trying. He’s been trying to divide and concur.

LEMON: Okay. Hold on, hold on, hold on. Because I…I’m going to let you finish, all right?


CUOMO: That’s an odd way of doing that.

LEMON: I’m fully…I’m full…I’m fully in…I’m going to let you finish. No. He, he, he, he has been trying. He doesn’t know how. He’s pretending to be a leader, and that photo op was…it showed you, he’s…he doesn’t know how to be President. He doesn’t know how, Chris. It’s not in him.

CUOMO: He is…

LEMON: But go on.

CUOMO: He is not trying…Look, I’ll give you the incompetence point. I concede that point. He is not competent. But he is very well aware of what he’s trying to do, and he’s working very hard to keep this country as disparate as possible. He has been trying, Don. He’s been trying to play to his base, keep it shored up…

LEMON: That’s not being President.

CUOMO: …and kill off everybody. Of course it’s not being President. But that’s what he’s been trying to do. Mattis is exactly right. Now, why didn’t he say it sooner? Whatever. He said it now, and now is the moment. It will only be as meaningful as we make it. Of course Obama was able to articulate who we are at our best. He knows it. He’s educated. He’s a leader. And he pushed for progress. It takes more effort to do what Trump is doing, to keep Americans apart, to make things up, to make us not like each other, to use the word “peaceful” as, you know, a dog whistle to “passive,” “shhh, come on, black people, be quiet. We like you quiet.” Yeah, of course you do, because you want things to stay the same. But this is a moment. You know, you and I have resonated with a lot of people, because they’re just not used to seeing this.

LEMON: Yeah.

CUOMO: They’re not used to seeing a brown face and a white face, depending on how much make-up I have on, talking about things honestly, and from a place of love, even though we don’t see things the same way and don’t have the same experience.

LEMON: Yeah.

CUOMO: Imagine if this conversation becomes contagious all over this country. Amazing…

LEMON: That’s what it…

CUOMO: …things…

LEMON: …needs.

CUOMO: …could be done.