CNN host Don Lemon said supporters of President Donald Trump are like drug “addicts” who must “hit rock bottom” before they can “live in reality” and be set free from misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic and other issues.

Lemon, apparently closing the door on the idea of politically divided Americans being able to live in harmony in the Covid era, claimed he has had to dump many of his friends for supporting Trump and clinging to false beliefs. “I think they have to hit rock bottom like an addict, right? And they have to want to get help,” Lemon said Thursday night on his show.

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“They have to want to know the truth,” he continued. “They have to want to live in reality. They have to want to be responsible not only for other people’s lives but for their lives.”

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The Louisiana native said that having lived in several “red states,” he has developed friendships with many conservatives. But after clashing with those friends on pandemic-related issues, he said, “I can’t do it anymore.”

“They are so nonsensical when it comes to this issue,” Lemon said. “They have every single talking point that they hear on state TV and that they hear from this president,” he added, ironically suggesting that mainstream news in the US is predominantly pro-Trump. “They repeat it, and they are blinded by it.

“I had to get rid of them because they are too far gone. I try and try and try. They’ll say something really stupid, and I will show them the science and I’ll give them the information, and they still repeat those talking points.

The rant was met with mockery from conservatives, such as actor James Woods, who said Lemon did his former friends a favor: “Champagne corks popping everywhere.” Podcast host and author Graham Allen quipped: “Lemon says Republicans are addicts. Maybe we are just addicted to freedom.” Songwriter YR Sparks, a self-described independent, said, “Cults do this,” while author Matthew Betley tweeted, “Rock bottom – like CNN’s ratings.”

Black vlogger Giacomo Knox called Lemon “the dumbest man on television” and said the CNN host and other “self-righteous” people “need to get over yourselves.” “To come sticking your little bird chest out, Don Lemon, and call people drug addicts – nope, no bro, you don’t get the right to do that,” he added.

But Lemon isn’t alone in maintaining a politically homogenous circle of friends. Soap-opera actress Nancy Lee Grahn said none of her friends supports Trump: “I couldn’t possibly be friends with someone who supports a sexual-abusing, environment-destroying, child-kidnapping, health-care-denying, narcissistic, pathological-lying bully.” Rabbi Jill Zimmerman agreed, saying simply, “Same.” Author Victor LaValle suggested that comparing Trump supporters to drug addicts is an insult to drug addicts.

Lemon said he sees no hope of Trump changing if he wins re-election on November 3, saying “he’s going to be more emboldened to bend reality.” And the CNN host sees little prospect for patching up his former friendships with Trump backers.

“I don’t know after this if I will ever be able to go back and be friends with those people because, at a certain point, you just say they’re too far gone,” he said. “I’ve got to let them go, and if they’re willing to come back and they’re willing to live in reality, then I’ll welcome them with open arms.”

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