CNN Anchors Fight Over How to Interview Trump Officials

Don Lemon: Instead of having on Conway, 'we could be learning something that's important to us'

December 14, 2018

CNN host Don Lemon on Thursday night scolded his colleague Chris Cuomo for bringing on White House counselor Kellyanne Conway for a long, contentious interview, saying it was a "defective, dismissive and histrionic display of non-answers."

Lemon was visibly annoyed at the beginning of his show when Cuomo handed off the show to him, asking why he would dedicate 39 minutes to Conway. Cuomo defended his interview.

"I believe in exposing what the White House wants the American people to believe," Cuomo said. "I believe in testing it and I believe when you do that with their best defender — that's what Kellyanne is, no question about it. She runs over interviewers all the time and she does it with cleverness. She does it with information. She does it with tactics, and she can also do it with personal invective when it suits her. She used all of them on me tonight. — But it exposes the reality that they cannot explain away the lies of this president. Maybe it's criminal, maybe it isn't. Maybe it matters, the Mueller probe, to the presidency, maybe it doesn't."

Cuomo said he was aware Lemon doesn't think Conway should be given an opportunity to speak on the network, and Lemon pushed back on Cuomo's defense.

"It is not a right of someone to come on CNN and lie and deflect. This was a defective, dismissive and histrionic display of non-answers," Lemon said.

"But people do that all the time," Cuomo said.

Lemon went on to blast the Trump apologists and Conway, saying CNN viewers aren't learning anything from them. He said Conway and "apologists" of the Trump administration "take up your time, our time, on national television when we could be learning something that's important to us."

Cuomo pushed back by taking a shot at the format of Lemon's show, which often features partisan panelists. "But Don, come on, let's be honest about what your programming is, you have a bunch of voices on every night – you think people learn from that?"

"People think this is about ideology," Lemon said in response. "If Kellyanne Conway wanted to come on and the apologists want to come on and they want to talk to you about policy, I think that is a completely different thing, but what they are coming on to do is to distract you, distract the American people. Chris, I learned nothing from that. She told me nothing."

Lemon said it "really ticks him off" that Conway was criticizing Cuomo and that he didn't appreciate the host giving her a platform.

Cuomo later defended the format of his show, saying he didn't want to copy the format of his previous morning show "New Day."

"All I am saying is I hear you and I respect your thing, that's why I don't do panels on the show. I don't want a panoply of heads giving me their opinions on things. I want people who are players, and I want to test them. That's what 'Cuomo Prime Time' is all about. That's the only reason I left the morning. I didn't come here to do more of what I was doing here in the morning," Cuomo said.