“CNN Tonight” host Don Lemon agreed with President Donald Trump Wednesday, saying it wasn’t sexist for him say RTE reporter Caitriona Perry has a “nice smile.”
Trump told Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar during a phone call that there were reporters standing over him and watching him speak.
“We have all of this beautiful Irish press,” he said. He specifically referenced Perry, saying, “She has a nice smile on her face so I bet she treats you well.” A women’s advocacy group UltraViolet and some in the media have called the comment sexist and out of line.
CNN political commentator Alice Stewart said that Trump’s comments were made with good intentions, and despite feeling bad for the reporter, she didn’t think it amounted to sexism. She added that she could see Trump acting the same way to a male reporter.
Democratic strategist Maria Cardona jumped in to disagree, “but he hasn’t done it. That’s the thing. He hasn’t called out male journalists and telling them they have a cute butt.” Stewart shot back, “I missed the part where he said that about the girl in this video tonight.”
Columnist for The Daily Beast Matt Lewis thought the issue was “political correctness run amuck” and “much ado about nothing.”
He then compared the media’s treatment of former Vice President Joe Biden to Trump pointing out that Biden was let off the hook for inappropriate and questionable behavior towards women, while Trump is heavily scrutinized.
“Joe Biden has said and done a lot worse,” said Lewis.
Cardona asked why Perry would say she was uncomfortable if the exchange was innocent, to which Lewis replied, “She didn’t seem uncomfortable to me. I think she wants publicity.”
Lemon agreed with Lewis and said the compliment was similar to liking a male reporter’s necktie or suit.
Cardona said, “it was an inappropriate moment coming from the President of The United States.”
“What is wrong with saying that somebody’s attractive?” Lewis asked. This prompted a story from Lemon about how he interacted with a young woman in the elevator and complimented her on her blouse, calling it “very summery.” Lemon said the woman accepted his compliment and that it was perfectly normal.
“You made my point better than I did,” said Lewis. Cardona fought back one more time, taking issue with Lemon’s story because it wasn’t the same as the president’s situation and wasn’t in a public forum.
“That is completely offensive you guys, period,” said Cardona.
Lewis closed by warning against having “speech police” because soon enough people will find themselves unable to speak their mind about things that were seemingly innocent.
“You can’t compliment somebody on that summery blouse Don because you’re crossing the line,” quipped Lewis. Things continued to lighten up towards the end with Lemon complementing both women on their appearance and calling Lewis “handsome” to which Cardona said, “Don and Matt I think both of you look really hot.”
“Thank you. See I would actually take that as a huge compliment!” said Lewis.
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