With victories in at least six Super Tuesday states, Donald Trump got even closer to inevitability status on the Republican side of the presidential primary contest. The divisive ramifications of a potential Trump nomination could be felt across the country, including on CNN’s New York set.
Following Ted Cruz’s victory speech after winning Texas and the neighboring Oklahoma, commentators on both sides of the political spectrum began warning against the dangers of a President Trump. On the right, S.E. Cupp pointed out that Trump has defended both “Operation Wetback” and Japanese internment camps as not only reasonable solutions at their respective times but positive precedents for America’s future.
On the left, Van Jones went back to incidents like Trump calling for the execution of the ultimately exonerated Central Park Five and the “dark underside” that he is “whipping up and tapping into and pushing buttons that are very, very frightening to me and frightening to a lot of people.” In particular, Jones highlighted Trump’s recent waffling about the Ku Klux Klan.
In both cases, Jeffrey Lord, who has been CNN’s chief Trump defender for months, stood up for the Republican frontrunner unequivocally. Recently, Lord has been comparing the KKK’s embrace of Trump to Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s relationship with Barack Obama and highlighting the Klan’s historic associations with Democrats. But in Jones’s words, Wright “never lynched anybody, never killed anybody” and “never put anybody on a post.”
“You guys play these word games and it is wrong to do in America!” Jones said, getting more and more heated. “I don't care how they voted 50 years ago,” he said of the KKK. “I care about who they killed.”
Lord ultimately resorted to the argument that Jones was the one “dividing people” with his rhetoric. “We're all americans here, Van,” he said. “This is what liberals do. You are dividing people by race.”
“The Klan divides by race, the Klan killed people by race,” Jones shot back.
As the two men continued to go back and forth, CNN’s camera remained locked on them. Anchor Anderson Cooper didn’t dare interrupt the fight. It took David Axelrod with a bit of comic relief—“Well, I think this is going well”—to break the tension and move things along.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump has now swept the majority of states in the Deep South and generally dominated Super Tuesday's votes. Whether or not his tacit embrace of the KKK had anything to do with tonight’s victories, we will never know.