On Monday, CNN's Don Lemon argued Western media was manufacturing controversy over President Joe Biden's apparent regime change gaffe over the weekend when he said Russian President Vladimir Putin "cannot remain in power." Lemon said Biden spoke vaguely enough to what Americans and US allies wanted to hear from the president as the leader of the free world.
Here's what Lemon told his colleague, CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota:
Lemon prefaced his remarks by saying he was coming from the perspective of someone on the ground in Ukraine, at that very moment.
"The president is saying exactly what most of the world feels, about Vladimir Putin. Now he did not in that speech say that Vladimir Putin should be removed, or we're going to take him out of power. He said, 'This man should not remain in power.' What person, in their right mind, thinks, that someone who bombs innocent people, children, a country that is in unprovoked war, should remain in power?" questioned Lemon during the on-air CNN segment Monday.
Lemon argued if Biden was more specific at that moment, it'd be a different story. But for what people saw in Saturday's speech in front of the Royal Castle, Lemon said the "cannot remain in power" quote is in itself open to interpretation.
The CNN host continued: "Quite honestly I think that this is a media-manufactured story, and it's in the media's interpretation. Being here on Sunday, or Saturday, and being in a place that was bombed by people who are under attack and under constant assault, I might have a different experience. Every single person that I have spoken to in this region, feels the way that Joe Biden feels."
Lemon emphasized that the exact sentiments of figures like the mayor of Lviv, Ukraine, are that Putin is comparable to Adolf Hitler and that the Russians in Putin's regime who agree with the Russian leader are Nazis.
"So we have to understand the moment that we're in now, and I think we should ease off a little bit because that's not what the president said. He did not say regime change," Lemon insisted. However, he was willing to concede that Biden should've been more exact in his language over the weekend.
Others voicing commentary on CNN seem to argue Biden said what he said about Putin was because he's Irish and that his instinct to "internalize human suffering may have overwhelmed him to the point where he was not careful about what he said," according to Wall Street Journal reporter Gordon Lubold's characterization of former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's reaction to the viral moment.
Jonathan Lemire of Politico received confirmation Saturday from US officials that Biden's line was not in the prepared statement, beforehand.
When asked about the comment on Monday, Biden argued he wasn't walking anything back, but instead "expressing moral outrage that I feel."
It wasn't the first official slip-of-the-tongue by Biden during his outings. Last Friday, the president said the US 82nd Airborne stationed in Rzeszow would see the atrocities happening in Ukraine when they're "there." A White House spokesperson, in that case, had to publicly clarify that the Biden administration wouldn’t be sending troops into the currently war-torn country.
Elsewhere during the Europe trip, Biden described Putin as "a butcher" during his meeting with fleeing Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw, Poland.
It was at the beginning of March that Sen. Lindsey Graham publicly called for the assassination of Putin during a Fox News interview with host Sean Hannity. His Republican colleagues, Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, condemned the statement shortly afterward on the grounds of the general conduct it puts on display.
The Biden administration, through White House press secretary Jen Psaki, distanced themselves from Graham's remarks by telling reporters that calling for the assassination of Putin was "not the position" of the White House.
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