FACT CHECK: Did CNN’s Don Lemon Call al-Baghdadi An ‘Unarmed Father Of Three’ During An Oct. 27 Broadcast?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook more than 600 times claims that “CNN Tonight” anchor Don Lemon called Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi an “unarmed father of three” during a live broadcast Oct. 27.

Verdict: False

The Daily Caller found no record of Lemon ever saying this statement. “CNN Tonight” did not air on Oct. 27.

Fact Check:

U.S. special forces operators executed a nighttime raid Oct. 26 that resulted in the death of al-Baghdadi. The Islamic State leader retreated to a tunnel beneath his northwestern Syrian compound and detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and two children, according to The New York Times.

The meme, which includes screen grabs from footage of Lemon and al-Baghdadi, uses the alleged quote to question Lemon’s intelligence. “‘Trump killed an unarmed father of three.’ – Don Lemon of CNN 10/27/2019,” reads the caption. “Yes, the idiot really said this on live television.”

Other versions of the claim circulated on Facebook in the form of manipulated CNN chyrons that read “Trump killed an unarmed father of three.” (RELATED: Was Trump Golfing During The al-Baghdadi Raid?)

There is, however, no evidence Lemon ever said the statement attributed to him in the Facebook post. A search of CNN transcripts, as well as the video clip editing service Grabien, turned up no matching or similar phrases.

Contrary to the meme’s claim, “CNN Tonight” did not air on Oct. 27, the Sunday that Trump announced al-Baghdadi’s death. Lemon’s newscast only airs on weekdays, according to CNN’s programming schedule. A spokeswoman for CNN confirmed to FactCheck.org that Lemon was not on air that day.

Lemon called al-Baghdadi and deceased al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden “murderous terrorists, full stop” during the “CNN Tonight” broadcast Oct. 28.

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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