CNN host Don Lemon defended KTLA-TV’s Sam Rubin on Tuesday, saying Rubin’s epic gaffe involving actor Samuel L. Jackson can be traced to similarities within individual “tribes.”
“It’s not about race,” Lemon told colleague Erin Burnett. “You go to Brooklyn, everybody’s got a beard and plaid shirt. They may be able to tell each other part, but they kinda all look alike to me.”
Rubin was roundly criticized on Monday for mistaking Jackson for Laurence Fishburne, leading Jackson to say, “We both may be famous and Black, but we don’t all look alike.”
Lemon also compared Rubin’s mistake to the confusion some people had in mistaking Lemon for ex-colleague T.J. Holmes. Burnett then alluded to research showing people often have trouble distinguishing facial features in members of other races, before explaining that her infant son is at a stage where he is learning to recognize her face when she is off-camera.
“He’s getting used to that set of features,” she told Lemon. “When someone looks [like they have] a different face structure, we blend them all together.”
“When someone is in our tribe, it’s particularly easier for us to tell them apart, because we’re used to their facial features,” Lemon said in agreement. “But when someone’s in a different tribe, sometimes it’s harder. But let’s be honest: I’m probably going to get in trouble here. People do look alike.”
Watch Burnett’s interview with Lemon, as posted online on Tuesday, below.