Don Lemon blamed Chicago Facebook torture on perpetrator's parents' "bad home training"
On Wednesday night, CNN anchor Don Lemon hosted a panel to discuss the arrest of four people who broadcast themselves torturing a kidnapped man with "mental health challenges" on Facebook Live.
When one panelist, Daily Caller contributor Matt Lewis, called the act "evil," Lemon did not agree.
"I don't think it's evil," Lemon responded. "I think these are young people and I think they have bad home training."
"Who is raising these young people?" he continued. "I have no idea who's raising these young people. Because no one I know on Earth who is 17 years old or 70 years old would ever think of treating another person like that. It is inhumane. And you wonder, at 18 years old, where is your parent?"
Blaming black parents, rather than systemic racism, happens often, whether the black youth are perpetrator or victim. After a South Carolina officer dragged a young girl across the floor, TV personality Bill Maher blamed the young girl's parents. And, despite actual facts showing that black fathers are often present for their children more than fathers of other races, the myth of absent black fathers persists.
The sole black panelist, former Bernie Sanders press secretary Symone Sanders, became visibly shook by what Lemon said and tried to weigh in. Lemon moved to another panelist who had yet to speak, but eventually let Sanders weigh in.
"For at least the last year, on very public display, the worst parts of America have been brought for the fringe into the mainstream," Sanders said. "We've talked about white nationalists and white supremacists and the KKK. When this inflammatory rhetoric is out there, when someone is telling you that your community is the 'worst of the worst,' it brings out the worst of the worst in people."
After Sanders speaks, Lemon responds by saying he doubts "these young people probably never watch the news" and "probably have no idea really who Donald Trump is."
"I don't think that's fair," Sanders responded. After Republican strategist Alice White tried to blame the incident on the breakdown of the American family, Sanders continued to argue that people should not assume anything about the children's parentage and instead spoke about the current American social and political climate.
"They might not watch the news, but they're on Twitter, where the president-elect is," she said. "All of these nasty, nasty things that we're talking about, that we've witnessed over the last year, they have seeped into our children, they are in our schools. It is coming to bear its ugly head in very very egregious ways."
Sanders is correct that young people need not watch the news to understand the impact Trump has had on the United States. According to a study from the Southern Poverty Law Center, teachers across U.S. have reported that Trump's ascendance has disturbed their classrooms and given students anxiety.
In the weeks leading up to and after the election, stories of discrimination came from places like Oregon, where one school endured a week-long spat of racially-charged incidents, and Missouri, where white students taunted an all-black team with a "Trump" sign at a basketball game.