Ex-CNN pundit Steve Cortes: Don Lemon is ‘destroying trust in media’ by pretending to be nonpartisan

A CNN panel with host Don Lemon received intense backlash for mocking Trump supporters as "credulous boomer rubes," and one of Lemon’s recent colleagues feels it’s another example of the network masquerading far-left pundits as journalists.

Steve Cortes was one of CNN’s few pro-Trump pundits before he left the liberal network earlier this month to work for America First.

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"Besides the shameful mockery from the CNN contributor and the other guest, the segment also revealed the clear intolerance of the host. During my tenure at CNN, I repeatedly challenged, on-air, the bias of Don Lemon — and he always claimed journalistic objectivity. This clip showcases the truth for the whole country to ascertain for themselves,” Cortes told Fox News.

CNN has long billed itself as a straight-news network but critics feel it has drifted further to the left during the Trump administration. The controversial segment, which has since been turned into a commercial for the GOP, features Lemon and two guests mocking and laughing at the president and his supporters.

CNN host Don Lemon is “destroying trust in media,” according to former colleague Steve Cortes.

CNN host Don Lemon is “destroying trust in media,” according to former colleague Steve Cortes.

Lemon addressed the segment Tuesday night, after it had gone viral, saying "didn't catch everything that was said," but Cortes feels the damage has been done.

"Cable news should offer robust reporting as well as strong opinion commentary. When outlets blur those lines, they do a disservice to the audience, and harm our country by destroying trust in media,” Cortes added. “I wish some of my former colleagues at CNN, like Don Lemon, would be transparent and admit what any viewer already knows — that they are opinion talk hosts and not journalists."

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“I wish some of my former colleagues at CNN, like Don Lemon, would be transparent and admit what any viewer already knows — that they are opinion talk hosts and not journalists."

— Steve Cortes

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, in which he 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 — and y'all elitists are dumb!'" Wilson said with a heavy southern accent.

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"'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!'"

Lemon almost lost his breath from laughing, wiping tears from his eyes with a tissue. The segment was slammed by everyone from President Trump to former CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien.

Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.