This sort of segment is one where CNN regularly makes me feel that they're even worse than Fox "news," because they don't have the same brainwashed viewership Fox does, but they're still pushing the same sort of fake balance and right wing memes that you see on the other network that calls themselves "news." And I use the term lightly for either of them.
The outrage over the shooting of Trayvon Martin that finally made its way into the national spotlight is well-deserved. And not just because of what happened to this one black child, who unfortunately found himself on the wrong end of a gun when he was doing nothing wrong. It really has rallied people from all across this country who are fed up with the racism that is still festering in way too many segments of our society.
It's gotten the attention of a national audience about how insane some of these gun laws are that have been passed in states all across the country. People are asking questions about why the NRA, ALEC and Walmart are happy to see people armed to the hilt and allowed to shoot first and ask questions later if it means more sales for the gun manufacturers rather than rational policies about when you ought to be considered to be defending yourself.
It has managed to have people all across the country talking about racial profiling, and white privilege, and the fact that no white child has to be taught at a young age that it might not be safe for you to run in public, or that you might be killed for how you dress, or if you're acting in a suspicious manner in public and you'd better stifle yourself in that regard if you don't want to be a target like Trayvon Martin was.
That was apparently completely lost on CNN regular contributor, Will Cain, who got very upset when the issue of racial profiling came up during this segment and who was basically taking the same line as Larry Pratt did the other day, which is that Zimmerman may have somehow been justified in shooting Martin and we can't be sure because no one knows what happened during the altercation between the two, if there was one.
Don Lemon managed to aggravate me even more than Cain did, because apparently it's all right to lie and pretend you don't know full well that the shooting of Trayvon Martin was not justified, when it was Zimmerman that was pursuing him even after being told to stand down by the police, as long as you're "civil" or "polite" to each other and don't yell too loudly.
It's muddying the waters on issues that are actually important and that Republicans don't want to discuss because it would mean admitting their complicity in that boy's death by pushing to have everyone in this country armed to the hilt. And it's not a "great conversation" when you allow the likes of Cain to pretend there's no racial aspect to the Martin shooting or what conversation we should be having about it now.
Transcript below the fold.
LEMON: Let's bring in CNN contributor Will Cain, and CNN.com contributor L.Z. Granderson, also a senior writer at ESPN.
Oh my gosh. Kumbayah, are you guys going be OK sitting right next to each other? No fighting?
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right here in person. If anything goes -- if anything goes wrong, there is nothing to stop it.
LEMON: No scratching. All right.
L.Z. GRANDERSON, CNN.COM CONTRIBUTOR: It's for the ratings. We're going to go MMA for the ratings.
LEMON: All right. Serious subject though. We heard the president commenting last week in the Rose Garden, L.Z. Should the president have commented on this case?
GRANDERSON: Absolutely. And I think it's disingenuous to believe that he wouldn't comment on this.
Everyone's -- not everyone -- a lot of people are tripping over themselves trying not to say race, trying not to talk about color. But you know what? That's a vital part of this conversation, that's a vital part of this entire scenario. And so, to assume that President Obama, a black man in the United States, would not have a reaction to what happened to Trayvon Martin is incredibly ridiculous. And so, it's natural for him to respond to that.
LEMON: I wonder if the situation were reversed, if President Bush, let's just say, pick a president, who's of a different color, had commented and said, you know, I have -- I remember having -- when my son was 17 years old, would people be saying the same thing? Because that's essentially what the president was saying, if I had a son, meaning he'd look like Trayvon, you know? Yes.
GRANDERSON: You know, it's really, really disheartening to me to see, you know, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum trying to politicize this.
LEMON: We're going to get them. I'm going to play -- I'm going to play those sound bites, L.Z. But I want to and then we can talk about it.
But, Will, what do -- do you think the president should have commented? CAIN: I have mixed feelings about it, Don. I mean, I think L.Z. makes a pretty compelling argument for President Obama stepping into what's become a very divisive issue. But my whole problem with this case, Don, and whole problem, with anyone for that matter commenting on this case, from the president, down to L.Z. and myself, is there's still not, there's still not a full spectrum of information here. There's not a finished investigation.
Now, I realized what are the complaints have been -- that's what it's about. There's not a good investigation. But there's still this whole timeline, everything looks to be --
GRANDERSON: What do you need?
CAIN: Everything looks to be condemning towards George Zimmerman. But we don't have all the facts, bottom line.
GRANDERSON: What do you need, Will? What more do you need? Certainly what do you need beyond the 911 tape?
CAIN: There is still a moment in this timeline, in this case, where George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin were face to face. What happened at that moment? Was George Zimmerman attacked? Does he have a legitimate claim to self-defense? Obviously, that's what he contends.
GRANDERSON: Will, you cannot tell me you thought a skinny 17-year-old boy was going kill without a weapon that big grown man. That is absolutely ridiculous stance to take. I hear what you're saying about all the facts, but if you just look at the physicality of it all. That's a ridiculous argument.
LEMON: Let me jump in here.
GRANDERSON: I don't understand why going slow sparks outrage.
LEMON: I think -- I think you guys are mixing up the two things. The president commented on was the feelings of a parent, and you cannot help but feel for the parents in any situation. You cannot help but feel for anyone who loses a child. That's what many people in the country are commenting on and that's what raised the emotion.
The whole thing about what happened, yes, Will, the investigation does have to play out. But I think what most people are commenting on and what most people feel here are any time someone loses a child, it is terribly horrific and why wouldn't anyone want to comment on that? How could that not touch any person to say something about it?
CAIN: Well, obviously, everything you just said is true, but children die every day in this country. Children die under horrible circumstances, but we don't talk about it on TV. My only point --
LEMON: We talk about it all the time. I just did a story on the kids who died in Afghanistan and we were talking about it. The president has commented on that. CAIN: I don think there's an intelligent -- I don't think there's an intelligent rebuttal to my point of few here that all we're doing is saying, all I'm saying is, we don't have a full set of facts. We don't know everything that happens. The only response I get is outrage and emotion.
And all I'm telling you is: outrage and emotion aren't good enough. There's a legal system. We are innocent until proven guilty in this country.
I'm also telling you, everything looks bad for George Zimmerman here. It looks ugly.
LEMON: Will, we get that. That is not what -- hang on. L.Z., let me do this. That is not what -- that is not what we are saying. Of course, the investigation had to play off. That's what every single person has been saying that. I've seen on television every commenter, everyone has talked about the reports from Sonner, the attorney, saying that this guy was attacked. That his client in fact was the victim here. We understand that.
Btu that's -- what we're at this point, I think people are saying that there's a realization about profiling in America that people don't understand. Let the investigation play out. Sure.
CAIN: No, no, no, no.
LEMON: There is a conversation that people are afraid to hear and don't want to talk about as it comes to profiling. Go ahead, Will.
CAIN: No, no, no. You shifted the debate to racial profiling. And that's not the conversation we were having. You asked a question about what people should be commenting on this case, including President Obama and us here sitting on this seats.
And what I'm telling you is, unless you are getting on to me and you guys attacking me for simply not joining an outrage and emotion, that's my job.
GRANDERSON: No, no, no.
CAIN: My job now is to simply come on TV and express outrage and emotion. What I'm telling you is the public has made mistakes in these kinds of cases before. In the Duke lacrosse case, the whole country condemned some guys without a full set of facts.
What I'm telling is, I think a responsible person in my seat, much less in --
LEMON: But you are expressing outrage in your response now. You are expressing an outrage? I am telling you the difference between the two. You are getting --
CAIN: Because I am outrage with the irrationality you are asking from me. You are asking me to come on TV and be irrational and --
GRANDERSON: There is absolutely nothing irrational about what we are talking about right now, Will. What I really find irrational is your difficulty at even talking about race. Your difficulty, when you -- I mean --
CAIN: Race isn't even part of this conversation so far.
GRANDERSON: Race is always a part of this conversation. That's the problem. You try to put these items into vacuums as if they are individuals and separated. They're not.
We have a very long -- centuries long history of racial tension in this country. So to talk about this subject matter and pretend that you can compartmentalize things like that, like this is racial profiling and this is the law and this is the stand your ground. No, they are all integrated. It's all a part of it.
CAIN: Let me --
GRANDERSON: No, no, let me finish.
LEMON: Let him finish and then I'll let you go.
GRANDERSON: And as far as the emotional -- so as far s the emotional response to it, you are a dad. I'm a dad. You should have emotional response to this.
That boy sat in a cold -- on a cold state for three days and the police did nothing to help find his parents. You should have an emotional reaction to that. If nothing else, that's what you're feeling.
CAIN: My job is not to come on TV and be emotional. I can tell you this as far as the race component. If George Zimmerman were black and Trayvon Martin were white, I would grant Zimmerman, the black man, just the same benefit of the doubt, that I'm granting any defendant in any case.
Race is for me being a responsible commentator has nothing to do with this.
LEMON: Will, I don't want -- I don't want to beat up --
GRANDERSON: I have to remind you that race has a lot to do with it.
LEMON: I don't want to beat up on you, Will. But you are being -- you're outraged at the outrage. And again I think you're right.
CAIN: I don't even know what that means.
LEMON: No, you said, I'm outraged that everyone is so outraged about it. I think you're right that --
CAIN: No, I didn't. I said that I am outraged that you guys are requiring that of me. That you're acting like -- (CROSSTALK)
LEMON: I didn't require that of you. No, do not put -- that's not what I said to you. I'm not requiring that at all. That's not what I said.
I told you what the president was commenting on, I think that's what -- I told you about the emotion that people are feeling.
But as far as talking about the merits of the case, I agree with you. I think that we have to wait for the investigation to play out. But every time someone comments or talks about the emotional reality of racism in the country or the reality of profiling, it doesn't mean that they can't speak to that.
CAIN: They didn't ask me about profiling, Don.
LEMON: Well, but you said --
CAIN: You asked me about the president commenting on this case.
LEMON: Yes, but you went there. You talked about it.
CAIN: OK, look, bottom line in the end, I want the viewers to trust me on this. I will not comment on anything without knowing what I'm talking about, without knowing the facts of everything, single thing I talk about. Hold me to that standard, for my political opinion, to my opinion on cases like this.
This to me has nothing to do with race. What it has to do with is facts.
GRANDERSON: And the fact is race is a part of this conversation.
LEMON: OK. Are we done? Are we done? We're good.
CAIN: This has been so hot, the camera is going to blow up. This thing buzzing the whole segment long -- seriously, have you heard it buzzing?
LEMON: Yes, I love it. You know what I like about this? I think that it's good to have these sorts of conversations. And Will and I are friends. L.Z. and I are friends. All three of us are friends, and we talk like this offline as we do on television.
CAIN: With exclamation points.
CAIN: This is about race.
LEMON: The country should be talking like this as well. So, thank you guys for participating. I'll see you again next weekend. Great conversation.