Many in the media have absurdly sought to cast Rep. John Lewis' remarks on President-elect Donald Trump's legitimacy as somehow equivalent to Trump's racist birther campaign against President Obama. But one CNN anchor took the premise much further by intimating that what Lewis did was worse.
On CNN's Inside Politics Sunday morning, anchor John King delivered the corporate media narrative that President-elect Donald Trump needs in order to control the damage from his slanderous and racially-coded attacks on civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).
King took pains to point out that "Lewis went first" when Lewis said during an interview that he did not see Trump's presidency as legitimate. King asserted that, although Lewis is a civil rights icon, "this was him being a politician," and appallingly sought to place blame for Trump's remarks on Lewis.
Then, while others in the media have absurdly equated Lewis' remarks with Trump's birther campaign, King actually took the leap that Lewis' comments were worse because he is a member of Congress, while Trump was a "private citizen" when he attacked Obama:
The question is, now we know others are following suit to skip — I'll use the word boycott, they can use whatever word they want — the inauguration. Will others join suit with the "illegitimate," we'll watch. And some Democrats privately say "Too bad, Donald Trump, this is payback. You did this to Barack Obama."
But this is a member of Congress. Donald Trump was a private citizen when he did that. We can call it reprehensible, the birther movement thing was reprehensible, but he was a private citizen. And to have a leading member of Congress do it sends a very different signal. We'll see.
First of all, what Trump and Lewis did are not remotely the same. Trump's was a racist campaign based on lies that Trump continued to tell until the end. Lewis' remarks are well-reasoned and based on intelligence assessments that are not disputed by anyone but Trump and his surrogates and supporters. That fact alone renders King's premise moot.
But the idea that Lewis' stand is somehow worse because he is a member of Congress is ludicrous. Trump waged his years-long campaign as a potential 2012 presidential candidate who shot to the top of the polls when he began it, peddling his lies with an unparalleled media platform that King himself once rationalized by saying, "Our job is not to cover just things that we know to be true.”
If anything, Trump's birther campaign only increases Lewis' standing to question his legitimacy, not as retribution, but as moral context. No one should expect an icon of the civil rights movement to simply stand by and watch unprecedented intrusions into our elections hand victory to an overt bigot who represents so much of what Lewis has fought against his entire life.