CNN host Don Lemon shut down conservative radio host Ben Ferguson during Thursday’s panel discussion about Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s use of taxpayer dollars to fund private jet travel.
Lemon read through the reports of the travel that now totals over $1 million. Price has conceded that these trips took place, apologized for them and agreed to pay back a small fraction of the cost to cover “my seat.” Ferguson, however, refused to acknowledge the facts that even Price had admitted.
“I also think the million dollar estimate is ridiculous,” Ferguson said. “Seeing what campaigns pay for private jets for months flying all over the country, to say a couple of his trips add up to a million dollars is–”
Lemon interrupted to explain to Ferguson that it was eight months of private travel, including military jets to Asia and Africa, but Ferguson persisted.
“Again, go look at a G-5 or G-6 and see how much it costs to fly anywhere in the world,” he said. “It’s not a million dollars. It’s probably several hundred thousands.”
Lemon repeated again that it was eight months of such travel, but Ferguson wasn’t having it.
“Let’s not put out ridiculous numbers, How many trips was it?” he asked.
“Ben, you’re arguing about something that does not exist again,” Lemon commented.
“Don, Don,” Ferguson cut in again. “How many trips in eight months did he take?”
Even Republican commentator Alice Stewart agreed with Lemon, saying “I can see how it adds up to a million dollars over eight months.”
“Ben, is there nothing you won’t make an excuse for?” Lemon said, stopping all other guests from commenting. “Is there nothing — because we challenged you on something — is there nothing you will not make an excuse for? … Listen, it’s dozens of flights, two internationally. Some of them on military jets. He’s admitted it, and is telling you how much he’s going to pay back. Yet, you’re still saying –”
The panelists all seemed to devolve into chaos from there. Ferguson did concede that he believes it is “bush league to fly this much private when you’re supposed to be serving the people of the United States of America, and you’re supposed to be making sure that their tax dollars are protected.” He went on to say that Price’s decisions were “a stupid move.”
Lemon wondered at one point if the non-billionaires are “trying to keep up with the Joneses.” While Ferguson refused to concede that Price spent the admitted $1 million
Former official for President Barack Obama’s administration, Van Jones, explained that they were hypersensitive to the costs incurring. According to Jones, it was extraordinarily rare to see officials use this kind of travel. The sentiment was echoed earlier in the night when Democratic strategist Bakari Sellers told a story about seeing former Labor Secretary Tom Perez stuck in a middle seat on a commercial flight.
“You’re talking about one person here,” Ferguson said in response to Jones. He was quickly shouted down by the other panelists and admitted that there were two people. So far, there are four members of the Trump cabinet that have been caught using similar travel.
“How many people do you want to be fired here?” Ferguson shouted at one point. Jones replied that people “who are stealing” are the ones who must go.
“There’s not a moratorium on on people getting fired for doing the wrong thing,” Lemon politely explained. “If you’re doing the wrong thing you should probably get fired.”
Watch the full discussion below: