Our more dedicated readers will remember we wrote about the CNN news anchor back in November, and by “wrote about him”, I of course mean “launched into a detailed tirade about what an spineless, amoral sleazebag the guy is“.
Now as we’ve said before, there’s plenty of folks out in the news who lack integrity. Those folks- your Piers Morgans, your Glenn Becks, your Keith Olbermanns- are plenty nasty, don’t get me wrong, but they’re at least motivated by some agenda. You can generally count on ’em to focus their bile in a precise direction or at specific targets.
No such luxury with Don Lemon.
Don Lemon- as he himself would tell you- isn’t tied down to any one perspective or set of politics. One day, he’s speculating to whether or not a black hole was the cause of the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Or one day, he’s asking one of Cosby’s alleged rape victims why she didn’t just bite the guy’s penis. Or he’s endorsing the patently racist and unconstitutional practice of “stop-and-frisk”, and telling folks they have to choose between dignity and security. There’s really no rhyme or reason to it. The dude’s got the earnestness of Walter Cronkite and the journalistic ethics of the Daily Mirror.
It’s the big reason I wanted us to keep on eye on Lemon in the coming months. The man’s inability to admit his errors, his pettiness, flair for sensationalism, and general indiscriminate choice of victim make him one of the most dangerous cultural forces around.
Which is why when I decided, earlier this week, to check in on him I wasn’t two clicks into my search before I was greeted with Don’s latest antics.
In response to the horrific Charleston shootings and the national discourse on the racial tensions, Don Lemon opened up his nightly segment by first holding up a Confederate flag, followed a card reading “nigger”.
With perfect obliviousness, he looked into the camera and asked:
No, moron, you offend me.
As much as it pains me, I actually agree with Lemon’s purported stance that the word “nigger” should not be censored, lest it be “sanitized”. But Lemon is not going through all these absurd antics to keep the word “nigger” from being sanitized- he’s doing it for the attention. We’re not being challenged by Lemon’s sophomoric signboard, we’re not being confronted, we’re being baited. Shocked for the sake of being shocked- that, and watching through the show’s commercials. It’s just the same as shrieking “SEX!!! (now that we’ve got your attention…).”
Now the charitable among you might want to let that slide. Sure, it’s an embarrassing and undignified scramble for viewers, but that hardly proves Don Lemon’s a bad journalist, let alone a dangerous one.
No, but his interview with Donald Tump does.
This “interview” (I use the word loosely) of course followed Trump’s infamous statement that illegal immigrants, in which he accused them of being largely drug dealers, criminals, and rapists.
Lemon, in this interview, brought up the question and patiently explained to Trump that the studies he cited were about unregistered immigrant women being raped. Trump casually responded- and I quote- “Well somebody’s doing the raping, Don.”
To which Don Lemon said:
You know what? I can forgive Lemon for interviewing Trump. In spite of Lemon’s position, I’m guessing it was his bosses who decided to stoop low enough to give a jackass like Trump an interview. What I can’t forgive is that Lemon just let Trump slide.
Here’s your opportunity to elbow drop Trump’s ignorant argument. To speak up on behalf of the women so desperate for a better life in America that they’ll risk sexual assault just to get near the border. Here’s your chance to call Trump out for not just being an idiot, but for actively spreading bigotry and xenophobia. To just state the damn facts- truth for truth’s sake.
Yet Lemon said nothing.
Look, Lemon’s got a degree in broadcast journalism. He’s been in news since he was in college. He’s won both an Emmy and the Edward R. Murrow Award for “outstanding achievements in electronic journalism”.
With such extensive experience, it’s really, really, really hard to pass off Lemon’s silence as anything but intentional. Lemon didn’t miss that chance, he let it go. Again, this guy isn’t a newscaster, he’s an entertainer. A side-show hustler in a suit and dress shoes, bidding you to step right up and get your thrills ‘n’ chills.
Think that’s too harsh?
Right before the commercial break in that interview, these were Don Lemon’s words:
“…When we come right back, more with Donald Trump. I wanna know… ‘if the campaign were an episode of The Apprentice, who would Donald Trump fire?”
But why stop now? It wouldn’t be a Lemon post without Don’s trademark ignorance of basic facts. I’ll turn this one over to the good folks at The Young Turks.
Think I’m just dredging up the past? Well, dear readers, perhaps you’d care to savor this clip from only last month?
For anyone too exhausted and disgusted to actually click on that clip, allow me to summarize:
Don Lemon hosts a debate between two guys on whether or not Obama, as president, should apologize for slavery.
The argument- and the one I’m sure the clowns at CNN would make- is that with the recent flair of racial tension it’s high time we had a discussion on race relations and the way we define our heritage.
To which I’d wholeheartedly agree- it still doesn’t explain why Lemon’s holding this debate.
It’s just so staggeringly irrelevant to issue at hand. The equivalent would be having a discussion on the pacing of The Godfather trilogy in the wake of a crime wave- one has zero bearing on the other. Time being given to these debates is time that’s not being used to (1) cover actual news or (2) hold discussions on the real issues of poverty, ethics, and history. But again, ol’ Lemon sees his job as nothing more than an obligation to create discord and confusion.
And I think it’s that which so fundamentally irks me. Not the misinformation, not the ineptitude, but the (seeming) lack of awareness. I swear, you could take this guy to a kid’s birthday party and within five minutes he’d be asking all the parents if they knew for certain whether or not vengeful neighbors had laced the cake with arsenic. And then, when you’d confront ‘im on why he’d just spent half an hour filling everyone’s heads with baseless yet horrific speculation, he’d probably look genuinely hurt and say he’s just doing his job as a journalist.
But maybe I’m also being unfair. Maybe I need to walk a mile in the guy’s shoes. In the spirit of that, let me take a page out of Don Lemon’s book and ask him this question:
Does this offend you?
It’s interesting that someone can get that far without giving a fragment of a shit, with or without the sleaze. Here’s someone that brought a scaled up version of the Odd Future “nigga” hat to primetime news, and it’s not even atypical for him. I feel a twisted sort of admiration.
I wonder what Hunter S. Thompson would say. You know, before the fistfight.
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