Unethical Quote Of The Month, Also Stupid: CNN Host Don Lemon

“In the court of public opinion, Jussie has lost. He’s lost the fight in the court of public opinion, and that’s where his battle is. Legally … if it’s jail time, if he has to do probation, if he has to pay whatever, but in the court of public opinion…It matters. And he lost that because of how—and not his fault—but maybe people were, I don’t know what they were saying to him, maybe because of his representatives, who knows? But it was handled poorly.”

—CNN host  and Jussie Smollett pal Don Lemon, blathering incomprehensibly and incompetently on his CNN show yesterday about the actor’s hate crime hoax being exposed.

Several commenters referenced Lemon’s nonsense in the comments to this morning’s Smollett-heavy post, but I was inclined to let them pass, having decided long ago, especially after his juvenile moderation of the gun control “debate” involving the Parkland kids, that Lemon is such a poor journalist and such an emotion-soaked, biased analyst that he’s not worth my time to criticize. But like Lewis Black’s story about the stray overheard comment ( “And if it wasn’t for my horse, I wouldn’t have spent that year in college“) that keeps churning in your head until it acts like an aneurism and kills you, Lemon’s idiocy kept churning and churning in my brain. How does this amateurish fool have a job on the air? Is it because he’s gay, black and cute? Surely that isn’t enough to justify CNN regularly giving such a dummy a national platform. Heck, Jussie Smullett is gay, black and cute. I can’t believe he’d make less sense than Lemon. It’s hard to believe anyone could.

What does the “court of public opinion” have to do with anything? Lemon’s pal—he told us that he rehularly calls and texts to see how Jussie is doing—conspired to trick the public into believing he was a victim of a hate crime with partisan political implications. Lemon sees this as public relations crisis? Smollett lied. He went on TV to spread his lie. He wasted many scarce police resources forcing Chicago PD to investigate the fake attack. Do we say that Harvey Weinstein, Michael Cohen or Ted Bundy have lost in the court of public opinion? Who thinks like that, or, if they do think like that, is dumb enough to say it out loud, and not just out loud, but on television?

“NOT HIS FAULT”? Gee, Don, can you spell “accountability”? Ever heard of it? See, if someone tells a fake story to the police and then goes to great lengths to spread the lie coast to coast, it’s his fault. Well, unless his daughter or puppy of something is being held at gunpoint by a maniac, but I’m sure Don would have told us if he thought that was the problem. It’s hard to tell because Lemon fails to construct a coherent sentence, but is he really blaming Smollett’s “representatives” for this? “IT” was handled poorly? What’s “it”? The hoax could have been handled better? A hate crime claim is being “handled poorly” if it’s made up?

And why the passive voice? The hoax wasn’t handled poorly, Lemon’s friend engineered a hoax, there was no way such a thing isn’t bad by definition, and this is pure equivocation and spin. Aren’t journalists supposed to clarify what happened, and not kick up smoke and fog?

Of course, calling Don Lemon a journalist is like Lincoln’s story about calling a dog’s tail a leg….except this is a case of calling a horse’s ass a professional.

He wasn’t through, either:

“Sean Hannity is going to eat Jussie Smollett’s lunch every single second. Tucker Carlson is going to eat Jussie Smollett’s lunch every single second. The President of the United States is going to eat his lunch”

How articulate, Don. “Eat his lunch”—may I translate? Everyone who cares about truth and fairness is going to be exactly as hard on Smollett and his knee-jerk supporters as they deserve, asked for, and should take as their just desserts, and there is absolutely nothing inappropriate about any of it. When Weinstein’s serial sexual assulats and harassment was revealed, I don’t recall anyone bemoaning the fact that mean Meryl Streep, Gwyneth Paltrow, Gloria Allred and Rachel Maddow would be “eating poor Harvey’s lunch.” Lemon’;s lament is the statement of a partisan advocate: “Oh no! This sets the cause and the narrative back! The enemy will be crowing!”

If that’s your reaction to Smollett’s scam, your values are corrupted, and you definitely have no business posing as a journalist.

33 thoughts on “Unethical Quote Of The Month, Also Stupid: CNN Host Don Lemon

  1. Senor Lemon is simply saying that Smollett didn’t get good advice from his lawyers and his PR people and his crisis managers. Lemon thinks everyone has a retinue of handlers working full time on his messaging. Lemon’s simply saying the incident wasn’t handled properly as a public relations event. The whole thing was just a bit of bad publicity that was fumbled.

    Amazing. I’d only seen the second quote from Lemon. The first one is even more outlandish than the second, which is merely impenetrable. What an arrogant, self centered little twerp. But they sure make a cute couple, don’t they?

    • Some random notes on the *translation* and *apperception* of Lemon’s meanings

      [I was going to put this in a hexameter poem but, heck, it would take too much time . . .]

      According to Richard Weaver rhetoric should be an embellishment of fine, clear and true ideas. Rhetoric on its own, in the absence of a solid understructure, quickly becomes a jargon of manipulation. Weaver’s critique of Our Present was pointed: he noticed manipulative rhetoric as the primary tool of politics and advertising and he linked this, of course, with a general intellectual corruption that had roots that could be traced back in time.

      I would suggest that for Lemon’s audience, to whom he directs his rhetoric obviously, his disconnected and craftily-deceptive rhetoric, is not free of meaning and even sense. It looks like, and it of course really is, rhetorical gobbledeegook easily exposed as such, but one has to discover that its purpose and function is not in *idea* (since it is devoid of idea) but rather in *sentiment*. I also suggest that arriving at a clear perception and understanding of this *sentiment* is not easy. It is non-rational or perhaps arational is the word.

      But I need to draw in an unrelated connection here to make my point: an article in The NYTimes by Michelle Goldberg titled Not the Fun Kind of Feminist: How Trump helped make Andrea Dworkin relevant again. I assume that no one here has bothered to read Andrea Dworkin, but I did when I was investigating the *philosophy of feminism*. I need to reduce Dworkin, for my purpose here, to just one short statement which Goldberg nicely expresses:

      “An anti-porn, anti-prostitution militant in the feminist sex wars of the late 1970s and 1980s, she sometimes seemed like a misogynist caricature of a women’s rights activist, a puritanical battle ax in overalls out to smite men for their appetites. Dworkin never actually wrote that all sex is rape, a claim often attributed to her, but she did see heterosexual intercourse as almost metaphysically degrading, calling it, in her 1987 book “Intercourse,” “the pure, sterile, formal expression of men’s contempt for women.” Feminism would spend decades defining itself against her bleak, dogmatic vision.”


      “So what it is in Dworkin’s long-neglected oeuvre that has suddenly become resonant? Perhaps it’s simply because we’re in a moment of crisis, when people seeking solutions are dusting off all sorts of radical ideas. But I think it’s more than that. Dworkin was engaged, as many women today are engaged, in a pitched cultural battle over whose experiences and assumptions define our common reality. As she wrote of several esteemed male writers in a 1995 preface to “Intercourse,” “I love the literature these men created; but I will not live my life as if they are real and I am not.”

      Goldberg is largely wrong in one aspect. Dworkin did in fact contend in her book Intercourse that the nature of intercourse, and of course that means reproduction and also motherhood, was indeed a symbol or emblem of woman’s essential position in culture and civilization. And as a radical lesbian and a radical agent in an effort to overturn hierarchical orders, her efforts were to see heterosexual intercourse as almost metaphysically degrading. Therefore, this effort (I realized when I read her) is in fact a rebellion not against society but against Nature. I will not say that this is the only source of ultra-feminist anger, but it is interesting that the feminist-lesbian rebellion has this very strange ‘metaphysical’ element.

      Now, back to Lemon, and back to the rhetoric, and the sentiment, of the Progressive Left in America right now. Similarly to Dworkin, the rhetoric that they use is less a rhetoric that embellishes sound and even communicable ideas, but expresses simply an angry sentiment that is easily militarized for specific purposes ultimately related to Power.

      In other posts recently I critiqued Clarence Darrow for his extremely shady use of rhetoric and suggested that his intellectual platform was corrupt. Yet, he got for himself social influence. He was listened to. He influenced the intellectual currents of his time. And the people that listened to him sensed that this underhanded and devious use of corrupted rhetoric could in truth be quite useful to manipulate people. It is at that point that one must note the connection between corrupted intellect, advertising and PR, and political manipulation. Thus, one could point to Darrow and say ‘This man was an evil influence’.

      But Darrow would just be the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Darrow is just a *social symptom* or a manifestation of intellectual corruption. He was just one of a great number of intellectually corrupted individuals who, through the use of will in connection with bad rhetoric, or devious rhetoric, has poisoned the intellectual world. The influence might be said to have begun there, though it is of course earlier (Weaver notes it began centuries earlier), but what is important is to notice how it has evolved, and is now a central feature of life in the present, or discourse generally, and in even the corruption of perception. Meaning: we ourselves have become corrupted through these usages and — I cannot see how this does not follow — must clarify our own connection with proper idea and sincere and true intellectualism.

      One had to identify *what Lemon is doing* and what he and the movement he represents actually intends. Once that is clarified, one can then see that *making sense* doesn’t really matter. It is the mood, and the will, that undergird what they are up to that has to be deciphered.

      • It is at that point that one must note the connection between corrupted intellect, advertising and PR, and political manipulation. Thus, one could point to Darrow and say ‘This man was an evil influence’.

        The influence might be said to have begun there, though it is of course earlier (Weaver notes it began centuries earlier), but what is important is to notice how it has evolved, and is now a central feature of life in the present, or discourse generally, and in even the corruption of perception. Meaning: we ourselves have become corrupted through these usages and — I cannot see how this does not follow — must clarify our own connection with proper idea and sincere and true intellectualism.

        The Progressives, &c. have a certain Whig historical narrative. As I keep thinking about it, it seems to me that can take on an anti-Whig character (by which I mean it shows a gradual darkening of the collective intellect) if I just shift my perception of what’s actually important and by this shift in the poles, the modern narrative about an Icarian flight to the sun looks more like an avalanche falling from a high place, gaining speed and mass and leaving devastation behind it.

        The trade-off of virtue and meaning for short-term material gain took on a gradual, increasing fervor. The rejection of foundational moral principle generated its own faux-philosophical movement of targeted radical criticism. It was allowed to be treated as a serious philosophy alongside honest attempts to gain rather than mitigate understanding (out of a high-minded liberal unwillingness to judge between good and evil (already a symptom)). It not being a serious philosophy but functioning rather like a drug its proponents squeezed out the competition by growing in number through illicit means and being unwilling to hear cases without a heavy, knowing partisan bent. To call it evil isn’t to use an adjective in a descriptive or even material sense but a noun.

        Even last week, in the discussion about men who accomplished great things by being terrible people, I’d begun to think about how they’d traded personal excellence (their Nature) for lightbulbs and telegraphs. The Faustian character of that trade is hard to un-see. Even worse is the fact that it isn’t visible initially. I’d been uncomfortable about not being able to make that observation at the time, but it might serve better here. St. Joan may have been an apt enough picture of the opposite motivations to have had a greater effect in that regard anyway. I’m reminded of the old adage “cheaters never win” which was explained to me as a child as a consequence of the observation that someone who cheats habitually for victory will eventually be caught. I though it was a shamefully utilitarian argument even then (indeed, without a deeper ethic than material loss and gain, it seemed to me like an argument for cheating only at particular, rare intervals when success was certain and the gain was truly something worth attaining). I think I’ll bring up children to recognize what they’re deciding to trade for that one-time victory — that honor is all that they are regardless of how they might momentarily feel and to trade that for a feeling is a fool’s bargain.

        It’s a curious problem. All of the classic explanations seem to fall short of some core principle. Materialism is definitely the fuel, but nobody holds that consistently like an arrived-upon conclusion. It’s clearly a means to an end — held intentionally for some more fundamental reason. Even Nominalism was just a tool to lessen their moral burdens. Recursion, that old bane of sophistries, makes short work of them all with ease, but they all remain nevertheless. I can generalize it all the way down to Original Sin, but ,even if that’s right, so what? That’s so general it’s the reason anything’s wrong with anything.

        Aristotle believed the virtues must be practiced, and that merely understanding them was insufficient. A vicious man can’t simply learn them and practice them at once any more than he can understand how to lift 300 pound weights over his head and do it without training his muscles first. This sort of training is certainly harder than allowing himself to remain vicious. Even coming to understand their value is wisdom, a cardinal virtue and threatening to his current peace of mind. There would have to be an external motive force which pushed him from childhood to be virtuous. This institution would have to be inviolable to the cries for leniency from those in intermittent phases of training and the half-hearted adults for a standard which is just a little lower and easier to bear. Otherwise, centuries later, we end up here with our standards buried in the earth’s liquid metal core and pederasts suggesting that we should bury them just a little deeper to ease the stigma against what they claim to be their “”Nature””.

        One had to identify *what Lemon is doing* and what he and the movement he represents actually intends. Once that is clarified, one can then see that *making sense* doesn’t really matter. It is the mood, and the will, that undergird what they are up to that has to be deciphered.

        And this is all I believe they are. They can no longer resist the forces of their own pumping glands. I believe that they react less-than-consciously to sense impressions and can not aspire to such things as intentions. The dopamine high in one man on a screen causes a similar high in his viewers who tweet out their highs which get back to the original man who’s own high is thereby increased, ad infinitum. It’s a feedback loop. They wouldn’t stop it if they understood, and they probably couldn’t. The sensual gain of the feeling of collective outrage is worth more to them than the truths they betray. The sin is it’s own punishment. It might be best to start learning Polish so I can let the dead bury their dead free from my heckling.

        I may have run out of avenues to doubt this. The sophists who couldn’t convince me of solipsism through reason (“If you’re not real, a given in your own argument, why should I believe you?”, I replied, recursively) have devised a clever alternative. This one requires a much more substantive counterargument, and that to ones who I don’t even believe can tell a syllogism from a mocking grunt and eye-roll. It’s a grim thing. Is there another conclusion? The Freemasons look like a dead end — another symptom.

  2. “And he would’ve gotten away with too-if it hadn’t been for those meddling cops!”

    I agree Jack, ‘The Narrative’ has suffered yet another blow, so unfortunate that the next time something like this happens that public may decide to wait for, you know, the facts before going into full “This is what Trump’s America looks like!!!!!” , or “Orange Man bad!!!” mode.

    I’d like to think that after the Covington and Jessie Smollet debacles, that so called ‘journalists’ like Mr Lemon would quit jumping the gun to spout the same tired partisan narratives, and perhaps actually investigate and observe these incidents with a critical eye….but maybe that’s expecting too much.

      • A member of my own family actually said “white doesn’t make right” on that subject. I can attest, this problem is painfully real.

    • It sounded like Lemon was apologizing and lamenting the fact that Smollett didn’t plan this fake hate crime well enough. Just think, if he had had better knowledge of the camera placement and got some white friends to do it, he could have pulled it off. The problem would be that white men wearing MAGA caps would likely be beaten up pretty quickly in Chicago.

  3. You asked “what does the court of public opinion have to do with anything”. Well Lemon sees himself as a trier of fact in that court. You see, Lemon understands the game of personal destruction. Find an ideological target, isolate him and then demonize that person. The goal is to have the target wither from the onslaught and quit and if the target does not retreat voluntarily he will be forced to retreat because his employer, his friends, and his family will then become targets of the outrage marketing apparatus of which Lemon and others like him are integral cogs.

    I used masculine pronoun references because this tactic is reserved for destroying male opponents; Sarah Palin excepted.

  4. Jack,

    With your strong ethics and legal background:

    If you were hired to be on Smollett’s legal team, what would you advise him to do?

    if you were hired to work on Don Lemon’s team at CNN, what direction would you give him?

    • Smollett: Confess, and make a plea deal. PR: Give an oral, #1 apology to everyone without referencing anyone but himself.

      Lemon: Tell him to take six months off, go back to journalism school, or find another profession. If I ran CNN, I’d fire him.

        • Cheap shot about give an oral.
          The full sentence is give an oral, #1 apology . . .

          Everyone knows Jack has a list of apologies that range from one to ten or so. The best most sincere apology is a #1 apology.

          The oral suggestion means he does not want him hidibg behind a written statement.

  5. Well. we won’t have to worry about this kind of thing happening again. YouTube has banned all videos deemed ‘conspiracy theories’. So no more “Jussie Smollett’s attack was a hoax’-type videos will be allowed from now on.

  6. Why is he allowed to report on this story anyway? He’s clearly got a conflict of interest as he’s too close to the story to be objective. No reporter should be posting supportive messages to a subject or contacting a subject to give supportive messages, much less advocating for a subject the way Lemon has done.

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