CNN’s Don Lemon praised Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s apology Wednesday night for donning “brownface” at a 2001 party.
Trudeau held an impromptu news conference to respond to a TIME report that he wore brownface when he taught drama at West Point Grey Academy in 2001.
Trudeau’s Liberal Party of Canada had already acknowledged the validity of a picture of Trudeau dressed as Aladdin in an “Arabian Night’s” gala. The future prime minister had darkened his face, hands and arms with dark brown makeup. (RELATED: Trudeau Apologizes, ‘Pissed-Off’ He Did Brownface, But Hints He Did Blackface Too)
Trudeau admitted to another blackface incident that CBC News has confirmed by finding a photo of Trudeau performing at a high school talent show in what appears to be blackface and an Afro hairstyle.
“I shouldn’t have done that. I take responsibility for it. It was a dumb thing to do. I’m disappointed in myself, I’m pissed-off at myself for having done it. I wish I hadn’t done it but I did it and I apologize for it,” Trudeau told reporters.
“I was stunned when I heard it,” Lemon said on CNN Prime Time. “It was so refreshing to hear. Listen, I’m not talking about what he did, how egregious, you can think about that. But to hear a leader apologize and seem contrite, to have some level of contrition.” (RELATED: Trudeau Under Fire For Snuggling With US Open Winner Bianca Andreescu)
Members of the panel were also sympathetic, saying Trudeau has set the standard for a political leaders expressing remorse: “To hear that come out of a government leader’s mouth. I’m shocked we all haven’t gone into some sort of conniption. I had forgotten what it’s like to have a leader that can express some level of remorse, regret and humility to accept it and say it out loud.”
Lemon suggested this level of honesty is absent from America’s leader. “What is happening in America today? We are at an inflection point in the history of our nation. Listen up, Mr. President. Tick-tock, tick-tock.”