CNN's Don Lemon Fails to Get Guest to Take 'Bait,' Instead Gets Contradicted on Slavery


The Three-Fifths Compromise is one of the most misunderstood pieces of America’s political history there is — and the fact Republicans are pushing back on the false narrative rankles some left-bubble partisan media.

On Wednesday, CNN host Chris Cuomo said Republicans “are bringing up this Three-Fifths Compromise stuff for a reason” during the 10 p.m. hand-off from Don Lemon, according to The Daily Wire.

“It’s something pernicious and wicked that they’re trying to do.”

“Is it white supremacy? What is it?” Lemon asked.

“I don’t know what their end game is,” Cuomo said.

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Cuomo may not have known what why Republicans were bringing this up, but those who had watched Lemon’s broadcast knew exactly why Cuomo was bringing it up. Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 of the Constitution originally laid out that those in slavery were to be counted as three-fifths of an individual for purposes of the census. Since then, it’s routinely been used to bring up the reduced humanity of black slaves in the United States.

The common view was that enumerated by Lemon on his Wednesday show, that the agreement “explicitly counted [slaves] as three-fifths of a free person, or three-fifths of a man, so that the slave states would be able to accrue more political power without having to count a slave as a full person.”

There’s a logical problem with this which you may be able to guess at — but Lemon managed to bring it up himself by quoting Tennessee state Rep. Justin Lafferty, a Republican. In impromptu remarks the day before, Lafferty said that while the compromise was “a bitter, bitter pill that haunts us today” it helped “lay the foundation for all this that we enjoy in this country.”

“The Three-Fifths Compromise was a direct effort to ensure that Southern states never got the population necessary to continue the practice of slavery everywhere else in the country,” Rep. Lafferty said.

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“By limiting the number of population in the count, they specifically limited the number of representatives that would be available in the slave-holding states, and they did it for the purpose of ending slavery.”

This is at least partially accurate; while the end game, to speak in Cuomo-esque terms, wasn’t necessarily to end slavery, it was clearly to neuter the slaveholding states as much as possible by reducing their representation. Lemon didn’t think so, however.

“That is what we’re dealing with right now,” Lemon said. “So, let’s get the facts now.”

For the facts, he brought on University of Texas history professor Peniel Joseph. One might easily assume that Joseph was going to give what we’d refer to as “alternative facts” — especially given CNN’s chyron was “Tennessee lawmaker falsely suggests infamous 3/5ths compromise was to help end slavery.” Even Lemon said “I’m sure we need hours to talk about this,” a sign that a denunciation was about to come.

It turned out Lemon didn’t need hours to talk about it and Joseph wasn’t there to give the version of facts CNN wanted.

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“The compromise is really the fact that Southern colonies actually wanted to count enslaved African-Americans as one person each for issues of representation,” Joseph said.

“And the compromise was that they would be counted as three-fifths.”

Even though Joseph noted that this wasn’t necessarily a part of “some secret plan by the Founders to get rid of slavery.” However, he was still on point here: By taking representation away from slave states, it didn’t let them dominate the House of Representatives or the Electoral College.

It’s worth remembering what Ben Johnson at the Daily Wire did: In one of Project Veritas’ recent CNN videos, a CNN director named Charlie Chester said, in an undercover video, that when “any reporter on CNN” asks a question, “what they’re actually doing is they’re telling the person what to say.

“It’s always like leading them in a direction before they even open their mouths,” he added. “The only people that we [CNN] will let on the air, for the most part, are people that have a proven track record of taking the bait.”

Alas, Peniel Joseph isn’t building the kind of “proven track record” that would lead to a second appearance. Stay tuned to Don Lemon’s CNN show, where the Three-Fifths Compromise will continue to have taken representation away from the antebellum South so that it could have more representation. How? Don’t ask these questions, just take the bait.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture