Photo by Alex Millauer

IN THE NEWS: Don Lemon, a news anchor for CNN, said he “had to get rid” of some friends for their beliefs on COVID-19, saying that until they “ hit rock bottom like an addict” and they “want to get help,” and “they want to live in reality”  only then, “will [he] welcome them with open arms.” Until then “[he] can’t do it anymore,” Lemon said last Thursday on his show CNN Tonight during a transitional segment with his colleague Chris Cuomo.

“I have many people who I love in my life. And yeah, I come from a red state,” Lemon said. 

“I’ve lived in several red states. There are a lot of friends I had to get rid of because they are so nonsensical when it comes to this issue. They have the whole – every single talking point that they hear on state TV and that they hear from this president. They repeat it and they are blinded by it.”

Lemon claimed he made an effort to educate these former friends stating: 

“They say something really stupid, and then I’ll show them the science. And I’ll give them the information and they’ll still repeat those talking points.”

Subsequently, Lemon drew an analogy comparing people who had COVID- 19 beliefs that were in opposition to his, as addicts who need to “ hit rock bottom” in order to “want to live in reality.”

“And I just had to get rid of a lot of people in my life because sometimes you have to let them go. I think they have to hit rock bottom like an addict, right?” he said. 

“And they have to want to get help, they have to want to know the truth, they have to want to live in reality, they have to want to be responsible not only for other people’s lives but for their lives.”

Lemon said he was uncertain of being able to recontinue friendships with those with who he had severed ties, expressing the difficulties that fraternization with them would cause for him.

 “I don’t know if after this, I will ever be able to go back and be friends with those people, because at a certain point you just say, ‘They’re too far gone and I got to let them go,’”

Lemon concluded with firm resolution that he could not bear being friends with those who have opposing viewpoints on COVID-19 with him, anymore, stating:   

“And if they’re willing to come back and willing to live in reality, then I will welcome them with open arms. But I can’t do it – I can’t do it anymore.”

The COVID-19 pandemic, along with numerous other national controversies, has been subject to incendiary bipartisan quarrel and severe polarization. 

American opinion regarding the pandemic is more divided along partisan adherence than in many other advanced-economy countries, according to a Pew Research Center study.  The Pew study surveyed, within a three-month period, a sample of 13 country’s citizens and their opinion on how well they thought their government was handling the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers found that opinions on the subject were largely made according to party preference. Of the countries studied, supporters of the current government body elected in their country, were more likely to say they approved of the incumbent coalition’s handling of the Pandemic than those who did not support the current body elect. America, not unexpectedly, had the most pronounced divisions above all others. 

According to the study, nearly 75% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said the U.S. government handled the pandemic well, whereas, only about  3/10th approved of the handling among people of other political adherences. Furthermore, whereas 77 percent of people who support the republican party said that coronavirus cases would not have been lower if America had cooperated more with other countries, those who do not support the Republican Party held this view at only 27%.

 The U.S. was the only country in the study where citizens who do not favor the current elected government said their lives have changed as a result of the coronavirus.  All other countries, in comparison, remained neutral in the perceived consequences and livelihood effects of the COVID-19 pandemic among partisan lines.

The one overlap in opinion between both sides was the large bipartisan agreement that the U.S. is more polarized now than before the outbreak of COVID-19. Other countries were less pronounced in this belief, though America has always been known as a country of opposing ideologies to a larger or lesser extent.

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll from October 16, 2020 found that: 

“Eighty-five percent of voters say the country is greatly divided over important values. Looking forward, 34% expect the country to become less divided over the next five years, 30% think it will become even more divided, and 33% say things will stay the same.”

A further sobering message on the depth of polarization afflicting the country.

Where did this happen?: CNN Tonight Show

When did this happen?: Thursday, Oct. 29

What the left is saying?: The left doesn’t seem to have much of an opinion on the issue. Lemon’s utterings appear to express the general feelings on the left. 

What the right is saying?: Conservative Pundit Ben Shapiro had this to say about Lemon’s comments on the show:

“ The closing pitch for democrats is the same pitch as it’s always been. You’re a bad person if you vote republican. It has nothing to do with Republican policies. It has nothing to do with why Joe Biden will be better for the country. It has to do with you on a personal level … Don Lemon is making this case overtly in the media. ‘You must be delusional if you vote for Donald Trump’ … here is Don Lemon saying the quiet part out loud about what the democratic agenda really is … [which is] to close the overton window to the point where you are no longer are allowed in polite society, if you have conversations that differ from the mainstream.”

Written ByDaniel Seidman

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