CNN's Don Lemon explains handling of segment after Trump criticism

CNN anchor Don LemonDon Carlton LemonDo people think ill of Jeff Sessions merely based on the sound of his voice? CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump Yang congratulates Romney for 'voting his conscience and character' in convicting Trump MORE on Tuesday night addressed a segment from the weekend that drew criticism from President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE in which the host laughed after a guest mocked supporters of the president.

"Ask anyone who knows me," Lemon said at the end of his show Tuesday while addressing the segment. "They'll tell you: I don't believe in belittling people ... for who they are, for what they believe or where they're from."

Lemon said that while he found the "joke" from the guest to be funny at the time, he "didn't catch everything that was said."

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"I was laughing at the joke and not at any group of people," he concluded.

During a segment on Saturday, Lemon had a panel discussion with GOP strategist Rick Wilson and New York Times columnist and CNN contributor Wajahat Ali. Both Wilson and Ali have been staunch critics of Trump during his presidency.

Lemon laughed after Wilson said, "Trump couldn’t find Ukraine on a map if you had the letter 'U' and a picture of an actual physical crane next to it."

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Wilson kept going, calling Trump supporters "the credulous boomer rube demo."

The interaction drew the ire of Trump, who retweeted the segment early Tuesday morning, adding, "Don Lemon, the dumbest man on television (with terrible ratings!)."

Others on social media also criticized the segment, including former CNN senior digital producer Steve Krakauer.

"If Donald Trump wins re-election this year, I’ll remember this brief CNN segment late one Saturday night in January as the perfect encapsulation for why it happened," he tweeted.