CNN host Don Lemon defended Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., saying that "code-switching" is absolutely normal.
"There is a difference between mocking someone, or a group of people, and knowing your audience," Lemon said, adding that it's acceptable for Ocasio-Cortez to mimic stereotypical African American accents because she grew up around black communities in New York.
"You have hung out with black people and that's not the first time she's used that accent. Trust me."
As he responded to a Washington Examiner report regarding Ocasio-Cortez's accent, Lemon repeatedly knocked his colleague Chris Cuomo for also "code-switching." The term is popularly used to describe changing one's style of communication in different social groups or in situations requiring different levels of formality.
"It's code switching, everybody does it. I do it. You do it. You may not realize you're doing it," he said.
"We're talking about code-switching. I do it, we all do it. There is a difference between mocking someone and knowing your audience." — @DonLemon— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) April 6, 2019
CNN hosts defend @AOC's accent adoption at NAN event.https://t.co/FK7KGwYn0T pic.twitter.com/cTud4foco4
The firebrand Democratic Socialist lawmaker appeared to imitate a Southern accent in a speech to a predominantly black audience at Al Sharpton's National Action Network conference in New York City on Friday.
"This is what building power looks like, this is what changing the country looks like," Ocasio-Cortez said, exaggerating and drawing out vowels in a distinct change from her usual pronunciation.
Ocasio-Cortez herself hit back at her critics, saying that conservatives are deliberately attacking her every move.
"As much as the right wants to distort & deflect, I am from the Bronx. I act & talk like it, *especially* when I’m fired up and especially when I’m home. It is so hurtful to see how every aspect of my life is weaponized against me, yet somehow asserted as false at the same time," she tweeted.
As much as the right wants to distort & deflect, I am from the Bronx. I act & talk like it, *especially* when I’m fired up and especially when I’m home.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 5, 2019
It is so hurtful to see how every aspect of my life is weaponized against me, yet somehow asserted as false at the same time.