“The president of the United States came after you. This was last year,” said Colbert. He said it was an “honor” to be on Trump’s radar. The CBS host then read the tweet, which said, “Another false story, this time in the Failing @nytimes, that I watch 4-8 hours of television a day- Wrong! Also, I seldom, if ever, watch CNN or MSNBC, both of which I consider Fake News. I never watch Don Lemon, who I once called the ‘dumbest man on television!’ Bad reporting.”
“It ruined my Christmas,” joked the CNN Tonight host about the tweet from last December. “I don’t really think about it. I think everything pretty much, a lot of what he said is the opposite.”
Colbert then asked if that means Trump actually thinks he’s the smartest, and Lemon replied, “I am the smartest man on television.”
Lemon recalled learning about the tweet. “I think I woke up and people texted me and said, ‘Oh my gosh. Stay strong.’ And I said, ‘For what? What happened?'”
He admitted that he had not seen the tweet because he unfollowed Trump. “Five nights a week, two hours I have to talk about the president. I know what he’s doing,” he said. “Yeah, I unfollowed. It’s too much. There’s too much tweeting and too much confusion, but I don’t pay attention to that.”
“One of the issues is that sometimes we put too much pressure or too much substance on what he’s writing on Twitter all the time, and I think we should be a little bit more judicious about what we put on television and what we talk about,” said Lemon.
Lemon then stated that reporters should only talk about Trump’s tweets when it directly impacts a policy. “If he’s talking about immigration like we’re talking about now. If he says something about that, fine. But calling a journalist dumb, I wouldn’t even put it on television. I don’t care,” he said. “It’s a badge of honor, as you said. I just brush it off.”
Colbert then brought up the jacket Melania Trump wore while visiting the United States-Mexico border on Thursday (June 21) that reads “I Really Don’t Care. Do U?” Trump defended the jacket on Twitter, writing, “‘I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?’ written on the back of Melania’s jacket, refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!”
“I think it was tone deaf,” said Lemon. “If I walked out here and had the same thing on, you’d ask me about it, wouldn’t you? What is it you don’t care about? So I think it’s odd that they are wondering why the media’s asking what did that mean? … Obviously if you wear those big letters on your back and there’s a question mark, that means ask me about it.”
Colbert asked him how he deals with covering the president. “I should probably drink a lot more than I do,” Lemon joked. “It is exhausting.”
“Every night it’s like drinking news from a fire hose. I used to wake up early every morning and study and read everything and I still read everything, but my show would change 15 minutes before air,” he said. “Everything I had studied for was out the door. That typically happens every single night.”
Lemon then discussed how Trump’s racially charged comments impact him as an African-American reporter. “It has everything to do with race. If we were told, or people would have you to believe that this was about economic anxiety, every single study and survey shows that this was about people who are losing power, losing influence. It was about race,” he said. “People were concerned about not having the same level of influence that they had. They were concerned about losing their privilege — and that’s what this is about.”
“I think that as a country, what is interesting about this administration, I think that it is offering us the opportunity to figure out who we’re going to be and are we going to be people who shut people out and put them in cages, put them in camps and separate them from their children, or are we going to be a nation that welcomes people in — with rules, of course — and be the America that we’re supposed to be.”
Colbert added that studies have found that the United States is bound to become more multicultural because white people are reproducing less. “When you are used to sort of having your way and the world reflecting who you are and what you want, when the playing field is being leveled it can feel like discrimination,” said Lemon. “Like for straight people with gay rights now. They’re having to deal with gay rights. For religious people. They’re having to do, in America, they’re having to deal with religious pluralism. So you may think that your rights are being taken away when really the playing field is being leveled and the country is just evolving. We’re gonna be a minority-majority country very soon, and some people don’t want to deal with that.”
The host then told Lemon that he loves the CNN chyron, the text that appears onscreen summarizing the network’s coverage of a particular story. “Some of them can be, almost seem like jokes,” said Colbert. He then explained that they were going to play a game in which Lemon had to guess which blurbs are real and which are fake.
The first blurb read, “Trump: I thought being president ‘would be easier.'” Lemon guessed it was real.
The next one said, “Trump: ‘I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts’ (He didn’t).” Lemon responded, “That’s fake.”
“President’s spokesman says he can’t speak for the president,” Colbert read off the third headline. After laughing, Lemon said, “That’s true.”
Colbert read, “Pence denies Trump said things he said.” The guest replied, “That’s true.”
“Trump defends tweet rants with new tweet rant,” said Colbert. Lemon guessed that the blurb was real.
“Source: President lonely, angry,” said Colbert. “I know that to be true. When he first moved in,” replied Lemon.
The final blurb read, “President gets 2 scoops of ice cream, everyone else 1.” After Lemon said the last one was a real blurb that appeared on CNN, Colbert in fact revealed that every one that he read was real.
Watch the full interview above.