Many readers were able to guess the impetus for this post; indeed, several readers brought it to my attention yesterday.
Monday, as part of the embarrassing faux speculation by the Trump-Haters in the news media about whether networks were obligated to treat this President’s Oval Office address differently than similar addresses by all other Presidents, CNN host Don Lemon opined that perhaps President Trump’s immigration speech should be withheld, censored and edited before the stupid, gullible, vulnerable American people have their minds poisoned by its lies:
“Do you think it should be, I don’t know, a delay of some sort and then you can — because people will believe it,” the Orwellian CNN host said. “People — the president will say what he has to say. People will believe it whether the facts are true or not… I guess that’s a chance you take with any President. But this one is different, and then, by the time the rebuttals come on, we’ve already promoted propaganda — possibly — unless he gets up there and tells the truth.”
- This would be a “KABOOM!” coming from any network talking head before November 2016. Now, coming from Lemon and CNN, it is still shocking, but far from head-exploding.
When you have no journalism ethics, you have no journalism ethics. Anything is possible.
- “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!”
Lemon’s musing’s are res ipsa loquitur. They prove bias beyond a shadow of a doubt. What’s “the truth,” Don? Who made you the arbiter of “the truth”?
- “This one is different” is a replay of the New York Times’ shark jump during the 2016 campaign, when on the front page, it declared that Donald Trump was such a threat (to the Times’s own view of the healthy status quo–you know, Democrats) that it justified abandoning objectivity and neutrality in its reporting. That was the day American journalism’s music died, and when it forfeited the public trust.
Sure, Trump is “different,” but all Presidents are “different.” The important point is that he’s also the same as every President: an elected leader who has a right to be treated with the same respect and accorded the same courtesies as every previous President. Lemon was mouthing cant that is antithetical to ethical journalism.
- Using the “bully pulpit” to promote Presidential policies is always a form of propaganda, because such speeches are political by nature and design. Newspapers reprint the speeches, radio and TV broadcast it. A Trump speech is no more propaganda than an Obama speech, and the news media’s job is not to approve it or censor it, nor is the media responsible for whatever advocacy or manipulation such speeches inevitably contain.
Was Lemon stricken with an aching conscience because CNN facilitated Obama’s deliberate deceptions about the Affordable Care Act? No, and there was no reason he should have been.
- How do we know Lemon charged across ethical lines so thick that even the most unethical and biased journalists are not tempted to cross them? We know because the ridiculously biased, ignorant, incompetent CNN star, Chris Cuomo—he who has claimed that “hate speech” isn’t protected by the First Amendment, among other botches—looked at Lemon when he made his statement as if his collegue had proclaimed, “I am Emperor of Lilliput!,” and said,
“He has his right to make the argument to the American people. And by the way,wanting barriers along the border is not propaganda. It’s not immoral, it’s not wrong.”
When even the second worst journalist in the room can tell that you’re bonkers, it’s time to consider alternate employment. Indeed it’s time for you to be forced into alternate employment.
No trustworthy journalist would advocate what Lemon did. No trustworthy news organization would employ a journalist who did. Lemon was actually claiming that it is proper for journalists to intentionally filter what the public is allowed to hear and read, when the journalist decides that such censorship is necessary. His statements are signature significance for an unethical, unreliable journalism who sees his role as an arbiter of what the public should be allowed to know, which is antithetical to believing in the public’s right to know. His statemnst are also facist in intent and nature. What he advocated is hostile to democracy, which holds that every individual has the right to know as much about public matters as possible and our nation’s leaders views on them, and to make up his or her own mind, rather than being forced into the camp by elites who deem that they are smarter and more virtuous, and should be able to withhold or distort information as they please “for the greater good.”
No journalist who could consider what Lemon proposed on the air can be trusted, ever again, to deliver news, facts or truth without selectively editing or distorting them.
I have seen friends, relatives and, of course, Ethics Alarms commenter who I believe have been cognitively damaged by the relentless cultural hatred and hysteria sparked by the 2016 elections. Most of them have occupations where this emotional/mental imbalance shouldn’t affect their job performance, but that is not true when the fever strikes a journalist or a pundit. It renders them unethical, untrustworthy, incompetent, and in most instances redundant and boring. Such journalists should all be offered counseling and leaves of absence, but when they have been driven to reject the most basic principles of journalism and democracy, there is no responsible course but to fire them.
Lemon must be fired, and if he is not, we must conclude that CNN has rejected ethical journalism and democracy itself.
As I have suspected for some time…
54 thoughts on “Dear CNN: Fire Don Lemon. Or Fire Yourself, PART II: Signature Significance”
Yes, the suggestion that networks should deny a sitting president the opportunity to use airtime as a bully pulpit is shocking. No such thing has ever happened before, except in 2014, of course, when Obama as president. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2014/11/20/why-the-networks-arent-giving-president-obama-primetime-real-estate-for-his-immigration-speech/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.a8f277f3f6d6
Did you miss this summary and Lemon’s statement?
CNN host Don Lemon opined that perhaps President Trump’s immigration speech should be withheld, censored and edited before the stupid, gullible, vulnerable American people have their minds poisoned by its lies:
The comment was a gratuitous cross between a “gotcha!” and Whataboutism. A Gotcahboutism.
It was simply wrong.
Of course “he” missed that as if it didn’t exist, it doesn’t fit into his narrative.
And the networks were wrong to do it. But they did it because of November sweeps ratings which equal advertising dollars, not because they hated the President so much they wanted to deny him a forum.
TIE! I wrote the same thing and posted at exactly the same time!
Yes, I remember that. Thanks for the reminder. I’m not sure why I didn’t write about it (I just checked.)
The issues are different, however, for that was the business end of the networks deciding that revenue was more important than the bully pulpit. It was not a news division decision or a decision based on political bias. Nobody was arguing, as were journalists in this case, that this President should not be granted a TV platform because they didn’t like his message. One decision was wrong because of non-ethical considerations and skewed priorities. The other proposal was wrong because of biased journalism.
Your framing of the information was gratuitously obnoxious, by the way, and I don’t appreciate it.
“He has his right to make the argument to the American people. And by the way,wanting barriers along the border is not propaganda. It’s not immoral, it’s not wrong.”
Wait. Chris Cuomo really said those words? Is there a typo somewhere in or around that?
I know. Doppelganger alert!
Animatrons working on network news desks?
You know that a blind squirrel sometimes finds a nut, no? This is Cuomo’s nut. Yet, Cuomo is the same bozo who told us that we Plebes were not allowed to see documents somehow declared confidential or secret but the news media reporters had the right to review and discuss them. Cuomo may have had a light go off in his head but I suspect that he wants Lemon’s time slot so he is trying to make Lemon look bad.
Lemon needs no help.
Jack: “This would be a “KABOOM!” coming from any network talking head before November 2006.”
Right. But also before 2006, Or 1996. Or 1966.
I’ll fix it.
What? There is a big ethical difference in networks simply declining to broadcast a presidential address, for which there are many alternative methods of communication, and actually censoring and editing a presidential address before the public hears it, to suit the broadcaster’s definition of the truth. I would expect the difference to be obvious to a teacher of college-level ethics.
Okay, call me a homophobe if you must, but am I the only person on earth who’s ever felt/speculated that the vast majority of gay guys consider themselves vastly superior to lesser beings, i.e., people who are not gay guys? To me, Don Lemon is Exhibit A of this phenomenon. (Okay, maybe Exibit A-1, Oscar Wilde being Exhibit A.) This was probably the main part of what I found so aggravating about the gay marriage campaign. It insisted that gays were not merely equal to heterosexuals, they were superior in every aspect and anyone who didn’t agree was a cretinous jerk.
Maybe I’m wrong.
To be fair, Oscar Wilde WAS superior to normal beings.,,,
Hah! Well, yes, you’re right there.
No, he just wrote better than most mere mortals.
Also wittier, funnier, wiser—up to a point…
Oscar Wilde, after his fall, wrote in De Profundis:
De Profundis was the first thing I’d read of Wilde. It is worth reading. He suffered terribly.
Someone wrote: He longed for ‘Jerusalem’ but resolved after all to go instead to Paris . . .
But have you read “The Importance of Being Earnest”?
I last saw “The Importance of Being [In] Earnest” performed by Andover students when my daughter was going to school there. Kind of funny thinking about all those high school productions where no one ever really wondered what “bunburying” really involved. But of course, English guys aren’t really gay, they just play around when they’re in their public schools and then they’re as straight as the English rain.
Do you know that “bun” was British slang in Victorian times? I doubt it. The British slang was (and is) “bum”. Bunbury is a real town in Australia founded more than 20 years before “Earnest,” so I regard the gag term in that comedy like “Basingstoke” in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore.
As Freud said, “Sometimes a silly name is just a silly name.”
Wilde’s “The Soul Of Man Under Socialism” is also worth reading.
You just broke a 7 hour void with no comments here, the longest in at least three years. Whew! Thank you! I thought everyone had gone to the Moon.
Thanks! I found a used copy and ordered it. It might have bearing on *the events of our day*.
I would be interested in a title: “The Soul of Man in the Possession of Sexual Deviancy” and would then link this notion to an analysis of the psychology of Don Lemon and other active homosexuals. (I would extend this to general sexual deviancy and the porno-culture we now live in).
Naturally, my approach would be considered reactionary, mean-spirited and contra-temporal. Yet this is how I saw his escapade in New Orleans in one facet. There is something childish, boyish, rebellious, and also counter-cultural. But narcissistic and exhibitionist. It becomes necessary for the sexual rebel to undermine the structures that ‘oppress’ him. And so they have to go to work to undermine, or modify and rewrite, the moral codes.
The sort of deviancy that Wilde recognized in himself, but does not seem to have fundamentally confronted — though this is impossible to say and would, likely, only be known if one were there in his last years and months, though he attempts a sort of ‘aesthetic conversion’ in De Profundis (and though I desire to I cannot criticize it) — interests me a great deal. It is the same *spirit* that is let out of the bottle that enters the social body (as it does the body itself) and undermines it.
Sexual deviancy does not allow a relationship to God. I am definitely not speaking only of homosexual deviancy.
I have not read “The Importance of Being Earnest”. I’ll have to look into it. I hope it would be better than The Picture of Dorian Grey which did not impress me . . .
There’s a lot going on in Dorian Grey, though. Parts are bang-on imitations of other “decadent” literature from the time. It’s arguable how much of this is sincere and how much is satirical, but the characters’ trajectories show that fixating on beauty and “sensations” is not exactly a path to enlightenment.
There’s also a few very paragraphs where Wilde uses elaborate language to imply a man’s lust for another man, then does a u-turn and basically tells the reader that wasn’t what he was saying at all and to get your mind out of the gutter. I think it’s funny.
If you want to look at that sort of Yellow Bookish stuff, a short taster that has less hidden acid (but verges on having hidden schmaltz) is Max Beerbohm’s “The Happy Hypocrite”. A more in depth view may be had from “The Green Carnation” (which has “Betty Windsor” as a presciently named character), and then, of course, you can go straight to the French precursors.
The remarkable thing is that the same writer wrote both Dorian Gray and Earnest, since one is a moralistic horror novel and the other is perhaps the cleverest comedy ever written in the English language. Outside of Shakespeare, what writer showed more range? Poe wrote tons of “humorous” stories, but he just wasn’t very funny.
Nice quote. I was going to comment that Wilde’s fatal flaw was believing his own hype, but this nails it harder and more thoroughly.
In every complex situation I have ever gotten in, and painfully had to find a way out, this has been my flaw as well.
I really wonder how it was for him in his last years and months.
He learned something, that’s for sure.
(I’m The Wednesday Woman, btw. I’m not going to *not* talk about Wilde.)
I thought that you were since you mentioned a change to your name.
Do you know about the very last days of his life? (As you know, Catholics place a lot of stress on that peculiar period).
I have a sense of them, but need to revisit the reading. I guess my Complete Works from college will keep me company when I’m snowed in tomorrow.
Some might argue that his conversion wasn’t real and he was just hanging onto the aesthetics of the Church (you’ll recall loooong passages of Dorian Grey to this effect), but I think it was the aesthetics that drew him to greater meaning he needed and could embrace by that point.
I found this, which is distressing:
Criminal on their part.
I also found the a title Oscar Wilde: The Aftermath (1963, Methuen) which has the complete infamous letter . . .
I had the same sense. We were told that gay marriage was superior to heterosexual marriage because they wanted to marry for more reasons than simple procreation. They married for love because they shared a deeper understanding of human emotion and human need for companionship.
Of course, you know what follows gay marriage: gay divorce. There are times I wonder whether the gay people in the divorce bar weren’t the prime movers behind gay marriage.
And you were wrong: I call you a homophobe because you express the attitudes and prejudices of a homophobe. The “vast majority of gay guys consider themselves vastly superior to” blah blah. You know better than that about what gay men go through growing up (were you one of the bullies?); if you don’t, you can guess by listening to your own words.
We all have our biases, Other Bill, but we strive to keep them in check, especially when we know we have no evidence for them — i.e., generalizing from a TV actor/newscaster or anyone else whom we despise for behaving or speaking in a manner that we find objectionable and then attributing that personality to his skin color or gender or religion or anything else that has nothing to do with the attributes you deplore … that is called “prejudice.” And prejudice carries extreme bias.
I cannot argue with your bias since it has no substance, that is: it is one of those “I am entitled to my opinion” to which I say “certainly, if it is a supported opinion; otherwise it is worthless,” so I can only ask that you try to keep it to yourself
“Gay” is an easy target. I am not such an easy target. I don’t feel superior to you in any way and on any other subject, I have a great deal of respect for you. So I ask you, politely, to sheathe your knife.
For the sake of polite, respectful conversation, I have a question and an observation, or an observation and a question.
I am sure that you saw the movie American Beauty. I refer to it as a ‘cultural artifact’ and I understand that as such it had a great impact on culture.
Would you agree that the screenplay, written by Alan Ball, offers a picture of both the two gay men and their gay marriage as idyllic? I read some critiques of the film, and of course I had my own impression, but it seems clear that the screenwriter presented these two men as the only two normal people — balanced, non-neurotic, self-knowing — in the entire piece.
I believe that one could say then that, for various reasons, or for whatever reason, that the project of ‘normalizing’ the gay or the gays took shape through images of this sort.
It would not be unfair to state, therefore, that even if it were not true, that gays might desire to present their unions as ideal. It could be simple ‘over-compensation’. It could be exaggeration. But I do not think it fair to say that some of the ‘cultural products’ paint homosexual union in a ‘rosy’ light.
Now, it is true that Christian commentators — the most adversarial of course — tend to try to show that it is a ‘tragic union’ and is rarely successful.
(And this is one part of the surrounding Culture Wars.)
What do you say to this, if I may know?
Satire is the word to describe what you’re missing here, Alizia. The film argues the case against conformity, but does not deny that people need and want it; even the gay characters just want to fit in. Jim and Jim are an ironic parody of what one reviewer (as I remember) called “gay bourgeois coupledom.” They exist in the numbing sameness that the film criticizes in heterosexual couples. That’s all there is. What I can tell you about gay marriage is that it is exactly the same as straight marriage, neither more nor less rosy or bumpy, though the kids turn out to be slightly tougher, kinder and more knowing.
Frameline, at 46 years the oldest queer film festival going, sorts through several thousand films and videos in dozens of languages every year to whittle it down to a manageable 230-250 for the ten day, simultaneous showings at five venues. “Marriage” is just one aspect of gay life examined in feature films, animation, other cultures, documentary, shorts, biography, comedies and tragedies.
I will move away from the film festival for a minute.
One of the many things you don’t understand is that legal marriage was mainly a matter of rights – in housing, job benefits, contracts, insurance, permission to make life, health and death decisions for one another, and a dozen other advantages that were desired, indeed necessary, especially for already long bonded and ageing couples. Gay men and women have set up housekeeping in spite of all the barriers throughout history – you just didn’t hear about them. Whether they marched in parades post-1969, fought in wars, set up businesses, or stayed home, you had no way of knowing they had been exclusive partners for 5, 25, 40, or 60 years.
Two of my closest friends met in college in 1960 and will be celebrating their 60th Anniversary fifteen months from now – they have only been legally married for three of those years and now, when and if they go into a senior residence or a nursing home or one or the other is hospitalized, they cannot be separated as they would have been, without that license. If after one of them dies, a relative comes in and tries to strip all of the loved one’s possessions or take over half the business or sue to obtain their shared life’s savings — that and worse things that used to be common –, now they can be stopped.
I can’t imagine what you and other homophobes envison as the “norm” for gay men (a prurient interest in men seem to be your primary focus), nor do I care particularly, but from what you say, I know it is twisted into knots that are unlikely to be unraveled, so I will not argue about it. You asked a question. It is answered.
For the first time, last year, three very different gay films that were featured at Frameline found major distributors immediately and arrived — and stayed much longer than anticipated — at standard cinemas in the U.S. and abroad. “God’s Own Country” is a British film following a young sheep farmer in Yorkshire whose life is transformed by the arrival of a Polish migrant worker. “Call Me By Your Name,” a coming-of-age romance made its way through world film festivals: Berlin, New York, Toronto, and most surprisingly, Beijing before coming home to open in 914 theaters, thence to Italy, Brazil, Ireland and the Philippines.
The third film to have wide release, though not so much as the others since it was aimed at an exclusively gay audience, was “Tom of Finland”, a titular biography of the erotic artist (1920-1991) known from worldwide for his muscled, leather-clad figures. Not a film for general interest and not with the production values of the others, but I would say satisfying to all who were curious about the reclusive artist, closeted with his homophobic sister.
All three films included family members as an integral part of the production (First, grim, hardscrabble, Yorkshire parents, disheartening in their own fears of their son’s “outing” them, harming their reputation in a tight, rural community — nonetheless, they have the ability love their son, if not to understand him. Next, sophisticated scholars, loving and supportive, living in the too understanding for a teenager to bear; and finally, “Tom’s” only living relative, manipulating and maneuvering to keep her brother shamed and hidden, finally calling the police to come and break up the party. The story ends on a high note, however, since he finally cuts the strongest of emotional ties and escaped to the U.S., where he could bask in the light of his fans.
The reason I bring this up is that there are marriages or the negation of marriage in all three of these films presently enduring on DVD and streaming services, exposed to the public by word of mouth or as award winners for breakout acting, cinematography, and screenplay that are what you are calling normal. T
These are the role models for the gay characters. The sons and brother do not see themselves as “superior” nor does the audience see them that way (although, considering your strange interpretation of what was going on in American Beauty, you could still see something different through your glass, darkly). The role models for the gay characters are bad, good and indifferent. Just like everyone else, that’s where their ideas of marriage come from, from one’s parents, and other marriages, and silly sitcoms, and movies, too. Essentially, the gay marriages can turn out bad, good, indifferent or null and void – –
At this point, of course, I am not talking to you but rather to anyone else who might wander in on the blog. You have several regular commenters who have shown they would follow you as if you made sense. Given sentences like “It would not be unfair to state, therefore, that even if it were not true, that gays might desire to present their unions as ideal,” I have no choice but to ignore you since you continue to try to separate “gay” (a characteristic) from the rest of the human race. As for “polite, respectful conversation,” I have no respect for your opinion on this matter: you have spewed your poison over me many times before but, as we are anonymous to one another, in the end it does not matter what I think. I do not agree to disagree with you. Thus I hereby withdraw from any further dialog or dispute with you, Alizia. Go play with your dead philosophers.
An odd ‘finale’ to a nice essay.
I suppose I would not blame you, framing the conflict of views as you do, that you would both open communication and close it absolutely at the same time.
My understanding is that we are in various permutations of states where ‘polite, respectful conversation’ can only become ‘having no respect for the opinions’ that other people have. And the reason is because ‘ideas have consequences’.
I won’t argue either against your use of the term ‘poison’. One man’s poison is another’s medicine, as the saying goes. I accept that there is such a thing as ‘poison’, but I am uncertain as of now as to how to define it. I have often written about this issue of ‘poison’ (without using that rather strong word), but of those poisons that operate over the course of centuries.
1) The analysis of the film — when taken as an artifact — can go much farther than you take it. It could open into a far wider analysis and conversation about the film the intentions in it (as in any cultural production), and the cultural effect. What you have done is to close down one level of analysis because it rubs you wrong.
2) I am definitely concerned about sexuality and its use and my orientation is old-school Catholic. I would modify the term ‘homophobe’ to ‘homo-antipathic’. But my sexual *uptightness* definitely extends to concerns about sexual license in all relationships (as I always mention). My position — I think rather liberal as far as conservative positions go — is simply that homosexuality should not be encouraged. That does mean that it should be dis-couraged. How that could be done, I have no idea. But the first order of business would be in the moral awakening in the individual. Along the lines, I might add, that Oscar Wilde described.
3) I do not doubt that a homosexual relationship/marriage could succeed. And I think that two persons should be able to protect their property as they see fit and as they choose.
4) I do understand that homosexuality is a constant in human culture. It has to be tolerated of course. My argument revolves around the issue of its advertising of itself (uncertain how to put this). The ‘selling’ of it. The ‘marketing’ of it. Obviously, I tend to see repression as necessary (in the strict sense of the word).
5) The term ‘twisted in knots’ is a specific value-judgment that implies that my concerns are linked to a pathology. What, then, do ‘knots’ refer to except to complexes that need to be ‘untied’? But that is how homosexuals often frame their *project*. Perhaps I do have knots (I definitely recognize spiritual knots that I work to untie) but at the same time I am interested in having *proper knots* if knot is taken as necessary rule. The wide question about ‘sexual liberation’ is often framed within the notion of ‘knots’. I am anti-sexual-liberation.
6) “At this point, of course, I am not talking to you but rather to anyone else who might wander in on the blog. You have several regular commenters who have shown they would follow you as if you made sense.”
This is always the case, isn’t it? We write not so much to influence or to convince the one we write to but to offer a view to the silent observers.
I think I have a slight advantage though (in this instance) and this is because at the bottom (oops, no pun intended!)(I am leaving that there because it is rather funny) your retort is emotionally-based, taken on the whole.
It is that *mood* and its intention that animates the movement to normalize homosexuality (when it is best repressed). You will have to attack and modify all structures and hierarchies that create ‘knots’ that inhibit you.
I tend to write in a kind of ‘intellectual remove’ about things that I do not myself have to deal with or live with. Some I do of course, but not in this case. My ideas are theoretical.
(I will continue to relate to you and everyone else with no change at all to me demeanor. I neither begin associations or exchanges nor end them. I just keep on in the same direction. . .)
If CNN is in any way consistent, Coumo will be the one sent packing… Speaking truth against the preferred narrative will not be tolerated.
Yep. My thoughts exactly. As I have been perusing CNN’s website, there is no indication Lemon will suffer for his totalitarian views.
Well, CNN ratings keep going down. Maybe Cuomo is angling for an offer from Fox as one of the liberal commentators.
CNN is the United States of America’s version of Pravda for the Democratic Party. They don’t care that it’s blatantly obvious that they don’t give a damn about truth, ethics, morals, or the United States Constitution except where it can be used to empower them and strip the power of those they oppose.
It’s my personal opinion that CNN IS literally an enemy to the people of the United States of America and I firmly believe that they are actively engaging in sedition and subversion.
ZoltarSpeaks! has “spoken”; so let it be written…
More importantly, isn’t he talking about media censorship? Isn’t this a kind of free speech suppression?
I realize the media makes editorial decisions every day about what is newsworthy and what is not, and even though I know they are not being objective, intellectually I don’t disagree with that process in the abstract.
But what happens in America if the media collectively appoints itself as the arbiter of what we are told? So far, competition and the Internet have largely prevented this despite efforts from the Washington Post, New York Times and others to do just this. At the same time, it is inconceivable that the Times or Post would fail to cover the President’s public remarks. That Lemon actually contemplated, and arguably advocated for this is, as you say, signature significance.
But it’s even worse than incompetence and bias. It’s truly the be-all and end-all of censorship, and if private news corporations must be protected for their public service, they have a responsibility not to censor the news.
I don’t really care if CNN does this, they have already crossed the Rubicon into supporting totalitarianism long ago. But suppose it spreads?
I suppose this is true, but I can’t escape the notion that it is the responsibility of the individuals in question not to let themselves be “cognitively damaged” by words and images. My suspicion is that you have tried to let them on the hook, but they deserve to be on it. The media is surely blameworthy for putting out nonsense, but the consumer is ultimately responsible for what he/she/xe consumes.
“… let them off the hook…”
You may want to add Lawerence Tribe to your list. Today 1/10/19, Mr. Tribe stated on CNN the new oversight committees will establish data that demonstrate Trump is a danger to the country as he is abusing his powers and must be removed from office.
Larry jumped the shark long ago, when Trump Derangement devoured the last firing brain cell. It’s very sad.