Anchor Don Lemon took issue with his colleague Chris Cuomo’s friendly interview with Chris Christie on Thursday night, accusing his fellow CNN anchor of allowing the former New Jersey governor to “rehab” his reputation after he became an advocate for mask-wearing.
Christie, who spent a week in the ICU recovering from COVID-19 this fall, appeared on Cuomo’s program to discuss the new national ad campaign in which he says he regrets not wearing a face mask while visiting the White House this year. The Trump ally acknowledges in the ad that the decision resulted in him contracting the coronavirus.
After wrapping up his interview, which also featured Christie calling on President Trump to “accept” President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, Cuomo handed off to Lemon at the top of the 10 p.m. ET hour. And Lemon made it known that he was not impressed by what he had just seen.
“I was going to say Chris Christie is doing a great job rehabbing his reputation,” Lemon declared right away. “He’s on reputation rehab right now. That’s what he’s doing. I didn’t believe a word that he said to you.”
“You don’t think he wants you to wear a mask?” Cuomo retorted.
(Interestingly, Cuomo himself has been criticized in the past over his flouting of coronavirus restrictions and guidelines. The anchor infamously got into an altercation after he broke quarantine while COVID positive and was seen outside. Cuomo has also been scolded by his New York apartment building for not wearing a mask.)
Lemon said Christie didn’t go far enough with his mask advocacy, adding that the former governor should be calling for a mask mandate, not just telling people they “should” wear masks. Lemon also blasted Christie for continuing to sanction Trump’s behavior because of their “friendship.”
“That’s wrong,” Lemon exclaimed. “That does not excuse his behavior. What he’s doing is instead of saying, ‘You should not drive, I am taking away the keys,’ he got into the car with the president!”
Later in the spirited back-and-forth between the two CNN friends, Lemon criticized the ex-governor for only seeing the error of his ways after he got sick.
“I am just saying there were a lot of things that Chris Christie could have done to help the country when he had the opportunity to help fewer people get sick or die,” Lemon said. “When he got sick, he rushed to the hospital and took a bed away from someone that may not have been there if he would have said, ‘The president is wrong.’”
After Cuomo called that “tortuous analysis” and said Christie “deserved” his hospital bed, Lemon doubled down on his harsh assessment.
“A lot of people get sick,” he said, adding: “That does not excuse him from his behavior.”
“But he said ‘I was wrong.’ What do you want him to do?” Cuomo replied.
“I wanted him to say what the president did wrong,” Lemon shot back. “I wanted him to stop making excuses for the president’s behavior and trying to say that his friendship excuses his behavior and his wrongdoing.”
“He’s a grown man,” the outspoken anchor continued. “What he should have said is, ‘I should not have gone into that room. I should have told my friend the truth at the time, I should have distanced myself from him when he’s exhibiting the wrong behavior.’”