Don Lemon appeared as a guest on Chris Cuomo’s show last night to discuss Ted Cruz and his wife being heckled and driven out of a restaurant in Washington, DC. According to Lemon, he didn’t like what he saw, but felt it was just part of being a public figure.
“It’s a tough one, Chris,” Lemon said when asked for his take. He continued, “As a person of color I know that especially during the civil rights movement, and now, sometimes the only agency you have is to protest and to get in someone’s face.”
That’s a bit of a stretch. It’s hard to tell from the video because it’s so dark, but it appears nearly everyone in that clip is white. So what is the comparison to the civil right’s movement exactly? If these same protesters were protesting a black authority figure, I suspect CNN would be suggesting they were white supremacists.
Lemon then tried to have it both ways saying, “I don’t like it, but it is one reason I’m not a public official. That I’m not running for office. In a way, I think it goes with the territory. I don’t like that they were blocking his wife, but that’s what he signed up for.”
Don Lemon is normalizing this behavior by suggesting Cruz “signed up” for it. Then he adds this dumb aside, “As a strict constitutionalist, which Ted Cruz is, he knows it is protected under the First Amendment. I don’t like it. I don’t like it happening to his wife. That’s what he signed up for, that’s part of the deal.”
First of all, as Chris Cuomo pointed out, you don’t need to be a strict constructionist or even a conservative to support the First Amendment’s protection of free speech (though that’s less true that it used to be). Lemon could have just said, ‘Cruz supports the First Amendment’ but he was trying to sound smart, or something.
Second, this was a private restaurant not a public forum or even a government controlled space. The First Amendment does not protect the right to start shouting at customers inside someone else’s place of business. Could they have stood outside on the sidewalk and protested? Yes, probably so. But in this case, the police were called but the protesters apparently were gone before they arrived.
Third, when did Ted Cruz sign up for this, exactly? Once again, CNN’s hosts are making excuses for the bad behavior of Antifa. No one signed up for this because until very recently no one was behaving this way. Even Chris Cuomo, who has defended Antifa before, disagreed with Lemon and pointed out the restaurant was a private space. He also said, “they should not be harassing people having a quiet dinner with their loved ones.” He’s absolutely right. Even Beto O’Rourke got that right, but not Don Lemon.
Here’s the video of Don Lemon comparing Antifa goons to civil rights protesters:
Finally, there is an amusing epilogue to this story. It seems that after Antifa fled the restaurant to avoid the police, Ted Cruz and his wife returned and finished their meal. CNN’s Kate Bennett published a statement from the restaurant’s owner. It reads in part, “When the situation resolved a few minutes later, our guests returned to thank the staff for their support and to finish their exceptional meal.” It adds, “Chef Fabio believes politics—like elbos—are best left off the dining table and we welcome everyone.”
According to @fioladc chef/owner Fabio Trabocchi, @tedcruz & Heidi Cruz returned to the restaurant they were forced out of last night. After the protestors left, the Cruzes apparently came back and finished their meal in peace. pic.twitter.com/fM967Ow4Zs
— Kate Bennett (@KateBennett_DC) September 26, 2018