Don Lemon fashions an ask: For all we know, Don Lemon may be the world's nicest person.
If so, he'll have to settle for a tie. There are a lot of the world's nicest people. They're found all over the globe.
That said, Lemon received a bad break in recent years. Some years back, CNN moved him from his regular weekend afternoon spots into his current role as a weeknight prime-time anchor.
Given the wealth and fame involved, this sort of thing can have temporary unhelpful effects. This brings us to the discussion Lemon launched on Friday evening, November 16, during the 11 PM Eastern hour.
Midway through that hour, Lemon had already conducted one of his standard discussions concerning the rather obvious racism of pretty much everyone else.
Long ago and far away, Lemon used to get in trouble by adopting the less judgmental stance concerning the racial dispute of the day. That has changed since he's gone to prime time. In prime time, we'd say that he tends to err in the other direction.
Midway through that 11 PM hour, Lemon conducted a thoroughly pointless discussion of a thoroughly pointless remark which had been made, during a videotaped public meeting, by a relatively insignificant county commissioner in Leavenworth County, a not especially gigantic county in Kansas (population in 2010, 81,000).
The commissioner's comment had seemed rather odd. That said, it wasn't entirely clear that he had been referring to "race" in the black/white sense, based in part on similar odd remarks he'd made about gap-toothed people like himself in the distant, irrelevant past.
Still, it seemed to some that Commissioner Klemp had made an offenseive racial remark. By the current rules of the game, this meant that Charles Blow had to be called on the air to conduct an unsparing analysis of the racism of the relatively insignificant public official who had made the odd remark during the lightly-attended meeting.
Blow thundered pointlessly on demand, largely supported by Scott Jennings, a CNN conservative who is generally somewhat pro-Trump.
By now, this is a thoroughly standard type of cable news tribal discussion. As it ended, Lemon teased his next topic. After a commercial break, he proceeded to fashion his ask in a clearer way:
LEMON (11/16/18): Yeah. Thank you both. I appreciate it. So we're going to take a closer look at women who voted for President Trump. Who are they? Why they support his policies? That's next.To peruse the full transcript, click here.
LEMON: So, white women supported Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. He won 52 percent of their votes. Though when you look at all women including women of color, Hillary Clinton had more support. She got 54 percent. Now, a wave of women, white, black and brown are sweeping into office after the 2018 election.
Does Donald Trump still have the support of a majority of white women and if so, why is that? Let's talk about it.
Before the break, Lemon slightly misstated his topic. After the break, he more specifically fashioned his ask:
He wasn't going to ask about women in general who voted for Trump. He wanted to know why so many white women—52 percent, he said—had cast a vote for Candidate Trump back in 2016.
Why did white women vote for Trump? If we ignore the unfortunate effects of constantly slicing and dicing the population by ethnicity, gender and "race," that strikes us as an important question.
Trump lost the popular vote in 2016, but he got enough votes in enough places to squeeze into the White House. Why did those people vote for Trump? That strikes us as an extremely important question even though, in current tribal terms, we liberals are supposed to get angry when news orgs try to find out.
Why did people vote for Trump? We liberals are supposed to complain when journalists fashion this ask. That said, it's tribally fine to fashion this ask if you fashion it as Lemon did this night. First, a minor digression:
Why did white women vote for Trump! The analysts leaned forward at their cramped study carrels, happy and expectant.
You see, the analysts are young and inexperienced. When they heard Lemon voice this ask, they assumed he was going to interview a bunch of white women who voted for Trump and ask them why they did it!
That's how "raw" these youngsters are! Lemon had a more pleasing method, one which would serve the tribe:
LEMON (continuing directly): Here to discuss, Kirsten Powers, Alice Stewart and Stephanie Jones-Rogers. She is a professor of history at UC Berkeley and the author of "They Were Her Property."Yay yay yay yay yay yay yay! Before a single word had been spoken, Lemon told us he was sure that the discussion was going to stir up controversy.
Hello, one and all. This is a very important conversation. I'm sure it's going to stir up controversy in a number of different quarters. Be prepared for that. So thank you for joining us.
Kirsten, let me start with you. There's been a lot of talk about why white women support President Trump despite of or perhaps because of his policies and his tone. What's your take on this?
He told us to buckle up for the outrage! This approach is big business on cable news, where heat-not-light is often the way to attract the numbers which justify the fat, undisclosed salaries of corporate stars like Lemon.
Already, the analysts' shoulders had started to slump when Lemon offered his pledge of plenty of controversy. Beyond that, though, would come the hard play:
Before any "white woman who voted for Trump" would get a chance to say why she did, Powers and the Cal professor would pre-explain that these women had done so because they were snarling racists!
Lemon started with Powers. For years, Powers has been one of the brightest liberal pundits in cable news, including during the many years when she did a weekly appearance on the Fox News Channel, her home base, with Mr. O—Bill O'Reilly.
Powers fled Fox in the aftermath of that channel's gruesome sex assault scandal, concerning which she had apparently heard nothing at all during her many years at the channel. Now she launched a long jargon- and cant-driven harangue about the motives of tens of millions of people she had never met.
For years, Powers had offered the best advice, not unlike Homer's Nestor. That said, she has adapted to the tribal scriptings now required of cable liberals. As she started, she established one point very fast:
POWERS (continuing directly): Well, I think there's a lot of different ways to look at this. I think one of the first things is that people will say that they support him for reasons other than his racist language, which we don't have time to go through, but there's all sorts of things starting from the launch of his campaign all the way up until the latest campaign, the way he demonized people trying to come to our country on the caravan.Yay yay yay yay yay yay yay! As it's been written in tribal hymnals, Powers had quickly established the fact that the women in question were racist!
And they'll say, "Well, I'm not racist, I just voted for him because I didn't like Hillary Clinton." And I just want to say that that's not—
That doesn't make you not racist. It actually makes you racist. If you support somebody who does racist things, that makes you racist. I just want to establish that.
"If you support somebody who does racist things, that makes you racist," Powers true-believingly said.
Luckily, she'd never heard about the sexual assaults occurring at Fox when she kept supporting the program there. Otherwise, someone might think that, if you work with people who are committing sexual assaults, you might be an [INSERT BOMB] yourself!
Powers hadn't known anything about that when she was being overpaid at Fox. But now that she's being overpaid by CNN, she seems to know the tribal rules of the road.
What have they done with the real Kirsten Powers? As she continued, she sounded like an Onion parody of a college sophomore drowning in the less intelligent forms of "critical theory," at least as applied in this context:
POWERS (continuing directly): As for why white women do it, I think we have to recognize that white men are doing it as well, but I think sometimes we would hope that we would get better behavior from white women because white women are themselves oppressed, and that they would therefore be able to align themselves with other oppressed people.Did that come out of Powers' head, or out of a Waring blender?
But I think we have to remember that the white patriarchal system actually benefits white women in a lot of the ways and they're attached to white men who are benefiting from the system that was created by them, for them. And their fathers and their husbands and their brothers are benefiting from the system, and so they are also benefiting.
As we've said, Powers was an extremely bright pundit for many years. But now, as Elliott said to E.T., "Look at what they've done to you!"
Lemon broke in at this point, then threw to the Cal professor. Please note:
Powers is a "white" woman who didn't vote for Trump. Jones-Rogers is a "black" woman who didn't vote for Trump.
On CNN, you ask the women who didn't vote for Trump to plumb the souls of the tens of millions of women who did. Jones-Rogers issued a mountain of script, then made a statistical mistake, which Lemon waved away:
LEMON: Stephanie, you're quoted in this Vox article as saying, "For centuries, white women have invested in white supremacy because their whiteness affords them a particular kind of power that their gender does not. Explain what you mean by that.Jones-Rogers said the same things Powers had said, with a few additions:
JONES-ROGERS: So, as a historian, I explore white women's economic investments in the institution of slavery. And what that has led me to understand is that there was this broader historical context that we need to keep in mind when we're looking at white women's voting patterns today, and as we look at their support, their overwhelming support of Donald Trump.
And so what I meant was that we tend to think of white women as primarily focusing on their gendered oppression, that because they are oppressed as women, that that oppression will allow for them to ally and to sympathize with other dispossessed and disempowered people in the nation. But my research actually shows that they long had a deep investment in white supremacy, and not only did they benefit from it, but they participated in its construction and its perpetuation, not just in the context of slavery or the colonial period but well after slavery was over.
LEMON: You said that it was overwhelming. It's 52 percent. It is a majority, but it's 52 percent. It's not overwhelming, but it is a majority.
JONES-ROGERS: Well, what I meant by "overwhelming" was emotionally overwhelming.
LEMON: Yeah. Got it. Got it.
To Jones-Rogers, the voters in question aren't racist; they actually have "a deep investment in white supremacy," perhaps even in "the institution of slavery." She then talked away a silly statistical mistake, with Lemon helping out.
Why did roughly half of white women vote for Candidate Trump? According to the white woman who didn't vote for Trump, they did so because they're racist. According to the black woman who didn't vote for Trump, they did so because they're deeply invested in white supremacy.
Increasingly, this is the way Lemon plays. In the sense of the term employed by Professor Harari in Sapiens, he strongly tends to pleasure his viewers with hard-core tribal "fictions."
Now that the tribal groundwork had been laid, Lemon finally threw to a white woman who did vote for Trump. He spoke with CNN pundit Alice Stewart, whose values by now had been fully explained. Here's what Stewart said:
LEMON (continuing directly): Alice, why do you think that white women support President Trump? Do you think they identify more with being, as she said, white than they do with being female? She just said that.Stewart said she preferred Trump's policies! Where do they get this sh*t?
STEWART: I think when we're talking about the political arena, voters, women and men, identify themselves as either Republican, Democrat, independent or whatever their political party. And I strongly disagree with the characterization that women are oppressed and by nature of that oppression they should naturally vote for another group of people that are oppressed. I think that's not that's just not how politics works.
I think, as a Republican or a Democrat or whatever your political leaning is, you should vote for people that represent those policies. I'm a Republican. I support this president. I voted for this president. I did so because of his policies. I do not agree with his tone and tenor.
Don, I've been on your show dozens and dozens of times discounting his behavior, his tone, his tactics, the things he as a about women, his denigrating women, and I don't tolerate that, but his policies are what I stand for.
Look, I worked really hard for a candidate that had the character befitting of this office. Unfortunately, he didn't win the will of the Republican Party to become the nominee and I supported Donald Trump's policies over Hillary Clinton's.
And let me just say this. Kirsten is a dear friend of mine, but I resent she says I'm racist because Donald Trump says racist things. I support this president because of his policies, and the things that he says that are disparaging and disgusting, which I've said many times, those don't represent me.
How weird! Stewart wouldn't even admit that she's a victim of gendered oppression! Hopelessly locked in this form of denial, she said she voted for Trump because she supported his policies, as opposed to Hillary Clinton's.
She also said that she resented her dear friend Kirsten calling her a racist. All across America, Donald J. Trump is still gaining votes for very similar reasons.
This was one of the dumbest discussions we've ever seen on cable. It's very, very hard to get dumber than Powers and Rogers-Jones were this night.
Not long ago, Lemon performed on the milder, more moderate side. Now, he authors "controversy" of this type on a pitifully regular basis.
This may be good for corporate ratings. How tribal fictions have changed!
One final word about this remark by Stewart: "I supported Donald Trump's policies over Hillary Clinton's."
Powers had started her oration by rejecting such ridiculous claims. We'll only add this:
Many people voted for Trump because Hillary Clinton had been demonized over the previous 25 years, as was Candidate Gore before her. People like Powers and Lemon never challenged this ugly, stupid, decades-long rhetorical war, which was largely conducted by the upper-end mainstream press—by their employers and friends.
Children are dead due to Powers' silence. We can only hope that these people have fully enjoyed all the cable news checks they've cashed.
Tomorrow: Toobin issues mea culpa; Maddow misstates RE McGahn
A final note on Stewart: She didn't say that her dear friend Powers was a misogynist because of all the years when she supported the assault regime over at Fox.
The rules forbid that on CNN. It just isn't done Over Here.