House Majority Whip Steve Scalise reacted with shock to CNN host Don Lemon’s claim on his program Monday, “I don’t see Democrats killing people” over politics.
Lemon argued during a panel discussion that President Donald Trump’s rhetoric had contributed to the political climate in which Saturday’s synagogue attack in Pittsburgh and the pipe bombs being sent to CNN and prominent Democrats last week had taken place.
Conservative commentator Mike Shields countered that people on both sides of the political spectrum created the current climate and are in fact guilty of engaging in violence.
He offered the example of James Hodgkinson, who shot and nearly killed Scalise, as well as a former Republican staff member, with the apparent intention to do far more harm.
Hodgkinson fired at least 70 rounds and managed to wound six during the June 2017 melee at a baseball practice.
The 66-year-old reportedly confirmed prior to opening fire in Alexandria, Virginia, that those on the field were Republicans. The Virginia attorney general’s office concluded he was “fueled by rage against Republican legislators.”
Lemon’s own network CNN reported that the shooter, a Bernie Sanders presidential campaign volunteer, had posted on social media that “Republicans are the Taliban of the USA.”
In another post, Hodgkinson wrote, “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”
On Monday’s program, Lemon argued the baseball shooting is a false equivalent to the multiple attacks carried out by “right-wingers.”
“You’re not being honest,” Lemon told Shields. “This is not equal, and I understand the whole argument about both sides.”
.@donlemon was so disingenuous during this segment and basically dismissed the shooting that nearly killed Scalise and several other Congressmen because nobody actually died when talking about violence on both sides. pic.twitter.com/7ABqpvOatf
— Cameron Cawthorne (@Cam_Cawthorne) October 30, 2018
“Bernie Sanders is not the president,” the CNN host argued. “So why do you keep bringing up other people instead of talking about the person who is the president of the United States, the rhetoric that is being spouted by one network (Fox News), and the conservative media? Why not just take ownership of that and talk about how you can correct it on that side instead of this whataboutism?”
Shields replied, “For both sides to understand this, they both have to realize they contribute to it, OK?”
Lemon disagreed: “The right-wing group killed the woman in Charlottesville. This guy is a right-winger who killed the people in the synagogue. The right-winger sent bombs to CNN and to Democrats. I don’t see Democrats killing people because of political — yeah, there may be democratic operatives who are out there.”
“Well they tried to,” Shields responded.
“OK, fine, they tried to, and that’s not right,” he said. “But for the most part, what do you see here, Mike? You see these extreme right-wingers.”
Panelist Max Boot backed up Lemon’s assertion, saying to Shields, “It is not equal contribution. There is nobody on the Democratic side who is engaging in the kind of dehumanizing language that Donald Trump engages in. There is nobody on the Democratic side who is encouraging violence like Donald Trump does.”
Scalise responded to Lemon’s claim with a simple tweet.
— Rep. Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) October 30, 2018
In an Op-Ed for Fox News published earlier this month prior to last week’s events, Scalise took California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters as well as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Attorney General Eric Holder to task for the inciting political rhetoric they have engaged in regarding Republicans.
Waters has called for her supporters to harass Trump administration officials wherever they find them, while Clinton stated you “cannot be civil” with Republicans, and Holder recently instructed Democratic campaign volunteers they need to “kick” Republicans.
“Despite the continued reports of politically motivated threats or violence, Democratic Party leaders have worked to keep this anger burning and incite even more harassment and violence,” Scalise wrote.
As a survivor of a politically motivated attack, it is tragic to think this is an acceptable state of political discourse in our country. I refuse to stand for it. Democratic leaders need to condemn, rather than promote these dangerous calls to action. https://t.co/r8GZgf9vnM
— Rep. Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) October 12, 2018
He continued, “Beginning with my own near-death experience at the hands of a deranged shooter who sought to assassinate a baseball field of Republicans, there is a growing list of violent or threatening actions taken against conservatives by Democrats.”
He listed numerous violent threats and acts taken against Republicans, including: Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s wife and children; NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, who received death threats against her children; Rep. Diane Black, who received a threatening phone call from a man who has now been indicted; Sen. Rand Paul, who was present during the baseball field shooting and physically assaulted last year at his home; and California Congressional candidate Ruby Peters, who was nearly stabbed with a switchblade last month while campaigning.
Scalise also pointed to the examples of Sen. Ted Cruz, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, and Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who were all harassed and, in the case of the former two, chased out of restaurants merely for being Republicans.
Scalise recounted that he continues to receive death threats that have led to arrests.
The congressman wrote in a tweet accompanying his piece, “As a survivor of a politically motivated attack, it is tragic to think this is an acceptable state of political discourse in our country. I refuse to stand for it. Democratic leaders need to condemn, rather than promote these dangerous calls to action.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.