CNN Host Don Lemon: I've been called a bigot and a racist...by the left AND the right

Why do some people succeed on TV, but many, many others fail? People want to hear the truth, and they can tell when they aren't getting it. CNN's Don Lemon understands this. Don joined the radio show Monday morning for a fascinating interview, and the two discussed the dangers of political correctness, the way the left and the right put people into boxes, and more.

Below is a rush transcript of this interview, it may contain errors:

GLENN: I think it's extraordinarily difficult to be your own man in today's world. To actually stand up for what you believe in and to hell with the consequences. To be in the media and go against your audience or your perceived audience or your bosses is also very difficult. Because everybody wants to put you in a little box. If you're on Fox, you are a racist bigot Republican. If you're on NBC, you are a -- a racist bigot liberal.

But those are not necessarily the boxes that we all fit in, now, is it? In fact, I think very few of us fit into the boxes that society has given us. But once in a while on television, you will see somebody that you think you really disagree with, say something that you're like, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait. What was that? One guy who I think is demonstrating time and time again that he is brave to buck the norm, even though I don't believe he's a conservative by any stretch of the imagination. And I don't think we agree on a lot of policies. I have a feeling we agree on many principles. This man said this recently on CNN.

DON: Political correctness has become dangerous. We have to stop looking for reasons to be offended. We have to allow people leeway to make mistakes in conversations without calling them racists, bigots, stupid, dumb, sellout, or whatever the word your word choice might be. On and on. Not everyone is going to -- or should they have to agree with you. In fact, it's better when people don't agree with you. That's how we learn. That's what conversation is really about. It's not supposed to be an agree fest. After almost 25 years in the news business, you know who is the most easily offended and the least tolerant? Liberals and progressives. Because many of them don't really want to hear anyone else's opinions, but their own. Here's a tip: If you only agree with people who hold your same political affiliation or who are of your particular race, your particular gender, or ethnicity, you are part of the political correctness run amuck problem.

GLENN: Holy cow.

Don Lemon from CNN is joining us now. Hello, Don.

DON: Good morning. How are you?

GLENN: Very good. Thanks.

DON: Good morning. Afternoon. Good day. I'm great.

GLENN: It's good to have you on the problem.

DON: It's good to hear that. It's good to hear that.

GLENN: Good to hear what?

DON: I'm glad you played that. I actually said that on the radio program that I'm on. I said much more interesting things on CNN. I guess would be subversive from what you call mainstream media, but that's what I believe. I really do believe that.

GLENN: Do your bosses know that you believe that?

DON: Yeah, they do actually. They do know. I think that's why I'm there. You know, I've been called a bigot and a racist by the right. I've been called a bigot racist by the left. Mostly on the left I'm a sellout or an uncle Tom. I don't believe in pandering I believe in telling people the truth. And people don't always want to hear the truth. And I believe many times liberals don't want to hear the truth. You know, if you don't see their world point of view, they get really vicious because, you know, what are you kidding me? You're a black man, and you don't believe certain things that I believe. You know, it's just really interesting, that box that they put you in.

But the right puts me in a box too, which kind of is disappointing. Because when you say I'm not conservative, I am conservative on some issues, and I'm liberal on other issues. And I just kind of make up my own mind. I think I'm more conservative on fiscal issues. And on social issues, you know, I happen to be a person of color and I happen to be gay, and I think I'm a little more liberal on social issues. But, you know -- so as I said, I'm my own man.

GLENN: So here's what we noticed on, and this is why I wanted to have you on. First of all, to say, thank you for being a man of conscience. Because if I can always guess what somebody is going to say, they're nothing, but a shill.

DON: Yeah.

GLENN: Because it's no way to be consistent with the politically powerful all the time. Really? You agree with everything everybody is always saying? You're just a shill. And I cannot guess where you're coming from. And I find that refreshing.

What is it going to take to get more people to get away from the political parties and the political -- the political correctness and start being their own man or woman?

DON: Well, I think it's -- I think we listen to the loudest voices the most, and we shouldn't. Because the loudest voices aren't always the majority. And I think the majority of people feel the same way we do, Glenn. That we should not be run by the right or the left or, you know, conservative versus liberal. We should be -- you know, we should listen to what is right. And I think it's going to take people like us standing up and giving voice to that.

So, you know, I was reading something this morning. I don't normally read social media. But I was in traffic. And I was just sort of reading around. And someone said, you know, I don't know anyone in my circle who likes Don Lemon and why does he still have a job. And the reason I still have a job is because listen to me. People tune into my show every night because they want to hear the truth. They don't want to be pandered to.

You know I thought about when I was at the White House Correspondents Dinner recently, and there was a person at MSNBC. And they're like -- and I saw them, and they said, look, I don't understand your success lately. Like, you're really taking off. What's going on?

And I said, well, I don't really care about what people think about me. And one of the anchors there, who you know I won't name, he said, well, what do you think about when you watch me? And I said, I don't watch you that much. And he said, why not? And I said, because I always know what you're going to say. Before you open your mouth, I know what you're going to say.

If I watch, Megyn, I don't know what Megyn is going to say. Megyn may call out Karl Rove or somebody on the left. And I'm usually go, yes! You're right! Not because I disliked the person, but because I thought that they were wrong on that particular issue. And just because I thought they were wrong on that particular issue, it doesn't mean that I don't like them or that I won't do business with them or I won't listen to them. That's all part of it. That's what we're supposed to do. I don't agree with my mother all the time, but it doesn't mean we hate each other

GLENN: Don, A, how did we get here? And, B, how do we reverse-engineer this?

DON: Well, I think we have to start listening to each other. And we have to stop sort of castigating each other and calling each other names. I mean, you know. You have names. Sport names. But when you call people rude names, you know, just because, that's fine. But if you say something is of this -- like if you say, something is, you know, akin to fascism. It is akin to racism. Or whatever.

You don't have to say, hey, you're racist. Or you're a fascist. It's because you may have those particular qualities, but it doesn't mean you're of it. And I think we have to start listening to each other. And I think somehow -- I don't know how we're going to do it. But all the people who have people sort of just wrapped around their fingers or in their heads and they continue to pander to those people, we have to somehow figure how to call out their lies and get people to realize that they're being pandered to. Because if you watch certain news programs, they say what people -- what they think people want to hear. Because they want to have -- I think people want to have their beliefs reinforced. Which is good. That's fine. But if you're in the news media, you have to tell people the truth. And that doesn't always necessarily mean reinforcing what you believe.

So somehow we have to figure out how to do that. And I think it's going to be -- it's incumbent on people like you who have a platform that I'm very -- I shouldn't say jealous of. But I would -- envious of it is a better word. I would love to have the platform that you have and the freedom that you have, Glenn. It's phenomenal and I commend you for it.

GLENN: Well, thank you very much. Let me ask you two questions.

DON: Yep.

GLENN: MSNBC was covering what was happening in Charleston on Friday. And we went down and I just asked people who wanted to go lay flowers at the church and just say a prayer and join hands and sing a hymn or two to join me and go down there. No political thing. I didn't talk to any cameras. I did nothing. I just wanted to go down. My wife and I show our support. So we go down. MSNBC is in the middle of a report. And can you play a little of this, Pat?

Thomas Roberts is the anchor who is reporting from Charleston. And in the middle of something else, this is what happens.

THOMAS: -- but hearing emotional testimony from the family. But can we look over here right now? I mean, it's kind of heartbreaking. They're singing and a whole flood of people showed up. At the same time this arraignment was taking place. So you're hearing from the family, and then this whole group of people showed up. And they're singing a gospel song? And you heard from the family members of those who were lost. I apologize.

GLENN: Okay. Stop for a second. Stop. Pat.

So he loses -- he breaks down. And feels the goodness from the people of South Carolina. When I got onto the plane and we were leaving, somebody brought that to my attention and said, my gosh, Glenn, MSNBC didn't know that it was you guys. Didn't know that it was your group. And I thought to myself, if they did, do you think it would have played out that way? Are we allowed to be -- are we allowed to be who we are? Or do we have to be in these little boxes? Would it played out the same way, Don, if he knew it was me?

DON: I can't answer that. Listen, I don't know for sure. But my honest truth, because I'm always honest, for me, is probably not. You know, I think Thomas is -- you know, I know him. He's a pretty honest broker. But, you know, MSNBC, I don't know. Because I don't think MSNBC is a fan of yours. So, you know, it would have been great if they had known that. That's what -- the weird thing is that people who are out there listening, the people who are on social media, whatever, they think that because you and I disagree with each other, that we don't like each other. Or -- they don't realize that if we see each other in public or at a certain event or whatever, we'll actually say hello and have a conversation. And I think that many people sort of take it to the extreme. Say, you have to make that known, Glenn, that you don't like -- by having me on your program. Now, just because you disagree with me, doesn't mean that you don't like me or you have --

GLENN: Quite honestly, Don. We were talking beforehand. I don't know what I disagree with you on. I know we have disagreed with you on stuff. But that's normal.

DON: That's normal.

GLENN: That is normal. I mean --

DON: Right.

GLENN: We grew up in a country where we used to disagree with people. But we didn't demonize them. We didn't -- they weren't the enemy. Now -- I was talking to my children last night. And they said, dad, you know you're going to have to take on the left and the right on some issues. And I said, I know that, honey. I know that. There's going to be people -- but it's the fringes.

DON: Right.

GLENN: The majority of people are not like that. It's just the fringes.

DON: Yes.

GLENN: But we're responding to the fringes.

DON: I told you, the loudest voices -- we respond to the loudest voices, and that's not the majority. I think most of the people in this country want -- want the country to work. They want our lawmakers to work things out. They want them to come to consensus. But we've paid attention to the extremes and the loudest voices. And that's not the majority, and we have to stop doing that. And we have to do what we're doing. We should go around the country and do something for -- to get people to start talking together. I wish I had known. I wasn't reporting from there this weekend. But I wish I had known you were doing something. I don't mind. I don't mind promoting something that you're doing.

GLENN: No, no. That's not why we did it.

DON: I know that's not why you did it. But I'm just saying, if I was on the air and I knew it was you, I would say that it's you because I think it's more important to say that so that people know. Because this guy -- this hateful guy who went into this church, he's accused -- we say alleged. But he's [inaudible]. But this guy who allegedly went into this church, he wanted to start a race war. That's what he said. That's what's alleged that he said. He thinks that people are divided. All the people that are coming together in Charleston are showing him, he's wrong. It's people of all different backgrounds. All different ethnicities. All different political beliefs. They're coming together because they realize, at the end of the day, regardless of all the hyphens, we're all Americans. And most of us in America are God -- God-fearing people, and we want to live together.

[BREAK]

GLENN: A host of CNN weeknights at 10:00 p.m. Don Lemon is with us. Don, you just said that you kind of wish that there was something that would, you know, kind of travel the country and talk about these things and try to bring things -- bring people together. We have just launched something that I would like you to look into. Called never again is now. All life matters. And what we're starting -- I think the biggest thing we can all agree on, and that is the rights of the Christians, the Muslims who aren't Muslim enough, the atheist, the homosexuals that are being thrown off the roofs by ISIS. We have to do --

DON: I saw your report on that. Awesome.

GLENN: Yeah, we have to help these people. We have to help these people. And we're going to be down in Birmingham, Alabama, on 8/28. And I'd love to invite you to come on down.

DON: If you invite me, I'm there. I'll come.

GLENN: Holy cow. That was easy.

DON: Yeah, that was easy. It's that easy.

GLENN: How about the -- and it requires that you give me personally $10,000.

[laughter]

DON: No. I just -- I'm about the truth. And I've been doing it for quite a while. And you know who realizes that, is Rand Paul? I started this thing on CNN called No Talking Points. Rand Paul and I had a huge row (phonetic) on CNN once about -- because he just wouldn't answer my question directly. I just wanted him to answer my question directly. And he went round and round and round. And this was during the last presidential cycle.

And I said, you know what, I just want politicians -- I don't care what party they're with -- just to -- if I say, what color is the sky? I don't want you to say, well, my grandmother used to say that back then the sky was -- the sky is blue today. And don't give me all this other stuff. We'll get to the other stuff, if you just answer my question.

And so, you know, since then, he'll come on the show. And I say, you know, people think we hate each other and you know, Twitter blows up every time we're on. And he said, well, that's why I like coming on your show. And the same with Donald Trump who is coming on my show as well this week. Because, you know, they're honest people. And they realize people don't just -- shouldn't normally just kiss each other's butt. I should be able to say, Glenn, I don't agree with you on that, and here's why. And we can still go on to have other conversations about other things. It's just that simple.

GLENN: I'm trying to get -- I'm trying to get the past that you think Donald Trump is a normal guy.

DON: I don't think he's normal.

GLENN: Okay. All right. Good. Okay. Good.

DON: There's nothing normal about Donald Trump.

GLENN: Okay. Good. All right.

DON: But he appreciates you if you stand up to him, is what I'm saying.

GLENN: Yes. Yes, I'll agree with that.

Don, best of luck to you. And I'm glad we opened this dialogue with each other. And I hope to see you on 8/28. We'll be in touch. Give you all the details. But I appreciate a man that doesn't always say what I believe, but always says what he believes.

DON: Yeah.

GLENN: Because that's an honest search for truth. And you engage in that. And I appreciate it. God bless. Thanks, Don.

DON: Huge fan. Please consider coming on my show as well.

GLENN: Thanks a lot, Don. I appreciate it. Back in a minute.

Would Glenn make a better bounty hunter or a Jedi? You'll have to find out in a new episode of the Beltway Banthas Podcast, where Glenn goes deep on Star Wars with host Stephen Kent. In this 45 minute discussion, Stephen and Glenn explore the political themes of the Star Wars franchise, Darth Vader's redemption from Return of the Jedi, Glenn's earliest memories of seeing the films and even debate elements of the latest Star Wars films.

If you enjoy the pop culture and nerdy discussions that Glenn, Pat and Stu get into on the radio show, you'll love this! After you're through, you can also check out Stu Burguiere's appearance on Beltway Banthas to talk Star Wars. You can find that here.


It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


https://shop.tomsteyer.com/collections/frontpage/products/tom-2020-pattern-tee


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…

https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/bumper-stickers/products/yanggang-decal


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/apparel/products/math-hat


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


https://store.johndelaney.com/products/dogs-for-delaney-collar


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


https://store.michaelbennet.com/michael-bennet-for-america-natural-canvas-tote/


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


https://store.jayinslee.com/elvis-the-elves-the-mystery-of-the-melting-snow-by-jay-inslee/


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


https://shop.stevebullock.com/collections/apparel/products/emoji-t-shirt


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


https://store.peteforamerica.com/collections/apparel/products/boot-edge-edge-t-shirt


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


https://store.julianforthefuture.com/julian-castro-loteria-card-white-tee/


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


https://store.marianne2020.com/collections/signs/products/love-rally-sign


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…


https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/apparel/products/impolite-arrogant-women-make-history-unisex-t-shirt

-AND-

https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/drinkware/products/strong-american-unions-mug


Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


https://store.kamalaharris.org/poster-for-the-people/


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/artists-for-bernie-coaches-jacket


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/feel-the-bern-fanny-pack


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


https://store.joebiden.com/collections/apparel/products/biden-polo-womens-fit


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.