CNN anchor Don Lemon appeared to be on the defensive on Tuesday night after a panel discussion mocking Trump supporters went viral.
"This is personally important for me to address this, OK? Ask anyone who knows me, they'll tell you- I don't believe in belittling people, belittling anyone for who they are, what they believe, or where they're from," Lemon said towards the top of his show. "During an interview on Saturday night, one of my guests said something that made me laugh. And while in the moment, I found that joke humorous. And I didn't catch everything that was said."
The anti-Trump anchor added, "Just to make it perfectly clear, I was laughing at the joke and not at any group of people."
It is unclear what specific joke Lemon was referring to. The first joke was at the expense of President Trump while the rest of the jokes were at the expense of his supporters.
Later on during a panel discussion about the dustup between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and an NPR reporter, Lemon when on to defend journalists who "get it wrong."
"We're not perfect. When we get it wrong, we say we got it wrong, we apologize, and we move on," Lemon said.
On Monday night, a panel discussion went viral and faced intense backlash for mocking Trump supporters as "credulous boomer rubes," even sparking fierce condemnation from Trump and his presidential campaign.
The panel, which originally aired on Saturday night during special live coverage of the impeachment trial, featured Lemon, New York Times columnist and CNN contributor Wajahat Ali, and ex-GOP strategist Rick Wilson discussing the heated exchange Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had with an NPR reporter, where he allegedly challenged the journalist to point out Ukraine on a blank map.
Wilson used the topic to mock President Trump as well as his supporters.
"[Pompeo] also knows deep within his heart that Donald Trump couldn't find Ukraine on a map if you had the letter U and a picture of an actual physical crane next to it," Wilson began, causing Lemon to chuckle. "He knows that this is, you know, an administration defined by ignorance of the world. And so that's partly him playing to the base and playing to their audience. You know, the credulous boomer rube demo that backs Donald Trump."
As Lemon began crying with tears of laughter, Wilson went on to depict what he thought a typical Trump supporter sounded like.
"'Donald Trump's the smart one- any y'all elitists are dumb!'" Wilson said with a heavy southern accent.
"'You elitists with your geography and your maps- and your spelling!'" Ali chimed in during the mockery.
"'Your math and your reading!'" Wilson added. "'All those lines on the map!'"
The CNN anchor almost lost his breath from laughing, wiping tears from his eyes with a tissue.
"That was good," Lemon reacted. "That was a good one. I needed that."
The clip went viral on Monday night, sparking widespread condemnation. Trump knocked Lemon, who he called "the dumbest man on television" as well as his "terrible ratings."
During the 10 p.m. hour on Saturday, which was when Lemon had his laughing fit, CNN averaged only 713,000 viewers. As of Tuesday evening, the clip had 11 million views on Twitter.
Others on social media mocked CNN as they pointed out the viewership difference between the network and the viral clip.
"The most telling thing about the Don Lemon segment is no one commented on it when it aired. No one watched it," conservative commentator Stephen Miller tweeted.
"Underrated hilarious aspect of this is that it took 2 full days for anyone to notice. And it got more attention being tweeted from an account with 20k followers than it did when it aired on CNN," another Twitter user pointed out.