Jeffrey Lord surely knew the beatdown was coming. But he stepped into the cable news ring to defend Donald Trump, anyway.
By Tuesday evening, when Lord appeared as a panelist on CNN's primary-night coverage, politicians and pundits across the spectrum already had devoted several days to condemning the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's statement last week that a federal judge's Mexican heritage makes him unfit to preside over a case involving Trump University. Even staunch Trump ally and possible running mate Newt Gingrich couldn't abide the remark.
What's more, Lord, one of CNN's two in-house Trump supporters, had sparred with other analysts throughout the day. So he was as ready as he could have been.
But perhaps nothing could have prepared him for the 8-on-1 pummeling he got on Tuesday night. Yes, there were only seven other panelists. But even moderator Anderson Cooper couldn't believe what he was hearing. Lord's argument was that Trump actually called out racism by saying U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel has an "inherent conflict of interest." Because it turns out Curiel is actually the racist, according to Lord, since he belongs to a group of Latino attorneys "that is all about discriminating against non-Latino lawyers."
"What [Trump] is saying here is that the judiciary has been politicized and racialized," Lord contended.
"Racism is morally wrong," he added later. "And what he is doing here — albeit by backing into this — is saying that here is a judge who belongs to these organizations."
(Important fact check from our own Michelle Ye Hee Lee: The judge belongs to a professional organization for Latino lawyers, not a similarly named group that advocates for immigrants.)
"But Jeffrey," Cooper countered, "you are interpreting comments made by Donald Trump without any evidence that that is what Donald Trump was actually referencing. You've sort of come up with this elaborate [defense]. What he was referencing was, this guy is Mexican; I'm building a wall. That's all he said. You're reading into it and projecting all these things."
Fellow panelist Van Jones — who has clashed pretty epically with Lord before — was particularly forceful in his disagreement.
"Be quiet," he directed Lord at one point.
"What happens is you begin to develop a cult of personality where an authoritarian is right because he is right," Jones said. "The exact same behavior, if it were done by a liberal, you would say is racist."
Journalists and veteran political hands on Twitter piled on, too.
Trump's surrogates have had a hard time defending his attack on Curiel (see the video in the middle of this post). Some haven't even bothered to try. Lord is one of the few willing to give it a shot.
And he just took a beating for it.