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Don Lemon: 'It's my obligation as a journalist' to call Trump a racist
CNN anchor Don Lemon said Friday that it's his "obligation as a journalist" to call President Trump a racist.
"Critical thinking is important as a journalist. If you cannot surmise that this president - if he's not racist, he's certainly racist-adjacent," Lemon told an audience as the keynote speaker at Variety's Entertainment & Technology Summit in New York. "We have come to a consensus in our society that facts matter. I feel like it's my obligation to say that."
"If you have the evidence that shows you, that leads you to nothing else but this president being racist, then I feel it's my obligation as a journalist to say it," he added.
Lemon called the president racist on the Jan. 11 edition of "CNN Tonight," the same day the first reports emerged that Trump had referred to Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as "shithole countries" during an Oval Office meeting with lawmakers.
"I said it, and I don't regret saying it. I believe that to be true," the 52-year-old Lemon said to the audience at the Mandarin Oriental hotel.
Accusations of racism have followed Trump since before he ever ran for office. He spent years promoting the false "birther" conspiracy theory that former President Obama wasn't actually an American, and last August said there were "some very fine people" among the white supremacist protesters at the Charlottesville, Va., rally that left one woman dead.
"No. I'm not a racist. I'm the least racist person you will ever interview," Trump told reporters during the fallout over his reported "shithole" comment.
Lemon said he enjoys working at CNN because he contends Fox News and MSNBC "have picked sides" politically, while CNN has "picked the side of the truth."
He also referred to Fox News as "state-run TV," language used on several occasions before by CNN president Jeff Zucker.
Lemon also said he has "never been drunk on television" despite speculation he was intoxicated during each of the last two New Year's Eve telecasts on CNN.
"People should see that their news people are real people and not some stuffed shirt on television," Lemon said.