CNN presenter criticised for ‘Irish Lives Matter’ joke

John King caught on hot mic during speech about Catholic Irish immigrants

John King, a journalist with CNN, is heard making an 'Irish lives matter' quip during a speech by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney at the Democratic National Convention. Video: CNN

 

A CNN presenter has been criticised for making an “Irish Lives Matter” joke during a speech by Philadelphia’s mayor about the Irish immigrant experience in America.

Speaking at the Democratic National Convention, mayor Jim Kenney, who is of Irish Catholic descent, drew parallels between the discrimination faced by Irish settlers in Philadelphia in the 19th century, and that faced by immigrants in America today.

“In 1844, an early version of the Know Nothing political party held a rally here to protest the threat that Irish Catholic immigrants posed to the American way of life,” he said.

“They claimed these immigrants, people like my family, were more like likely to commit crimes than native born citizens.”

While he was speaking, CNN’s John King was caught on a hot mic saying: “That’s the Irish Lives Matter movement”.

His quip has been criticised on social media, for mocking the “Black Lives Matter” activist movement, which campaigns against violence towards black people.

Mr Kenney continued: “This rhetoric led to riots. St Michael and St Augustine churches were burned to the ground. Some 20 people died. I’m telling you this story for one reason: It’s happening again. The Know Nothings have returned and last week in Cleveland they vowed to take their country back this November. But they got it wrong. It was never their country in the first place.”

Responding to the criticism on Twitter, Mr King, who claims Irish heritage himself, said he “wasn’t laughing at the mayor”, but was simply “equating his reference 2 today”.

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