CNN’s Don Lemon on Monday recalled his own past as a victim of childhood sexual abuse while scolding a conservative for defending Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore against allegations of child molestation.
In 2010, Lemon first shared publicly that he was “a victim of a pedophile” as a kid. During a segment on CNN about Moore’s predation of children, Republican Ed Martin appeared to strike a nerve with the host.
“I'm not saying Roy Moore should be only believed,” Martin tried to say, after parroting conservative talking points that suggest Moore’s multiple accusers are lying or otherwise driven by ulterior motives.
“That's what you're saying,” Lemon explained, before pressing Martin on whether he believes Donald Trump’s own words in the infamous “Access: Hollywood” tape during which the president admitted to sexual assault.
“The reason I'm asking you, here's why this upsets me,” Lemon said. “And this is no secret—except to new people who are watching—that I was a victim of childhood sexual abuse. And no one, no matter how old you are, wants to come out and admit that publicly. It is just not something that is done, especially when you're talking about something that happens at that young an age.”
“And that is what's so upsetting to so many people,” he continued. “And here you are sitting here on CNN twisting yourself in a a pretzel to try to defend something that is indefensible. Not one person wants to come out and say that, not two, not three, not four, not five, certainly not 12 women.”
Martin tried to say he “never” said the claims should not be honored and investigated, before arguing that “when the litany of things rolled out, a lot of them by non-minors, the question is: who do you believe?”
“I don’t disbelieve the women,” Martin said, adding “to call someone a child molester is really outrageous.”
Later in the segment, Martin audibly gasped when CNN’s Bakari Sellars described Moore’s alleged actions ad “pedophilia.”
“As awful as it sounds for him to say that, it is even more awful for the people who are involved personally in this, Ed, I hope you understand that,” Lemon lectures.