Once again, CNN’s Don Lemon indulged his inner high school jerk by getting drunk during New Years Eve festivities. As he has before, Lemon still went before the cameras smashed as a CNN special rang in 2022. This time, however, he had more to say than just singing “Melancholy Baby” or whatever it is drunks sing now.
As CNN hosts Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper were reporting on the action in Times Square, Lemon was in New Orleans with fellow CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota and comedian Dulce Sloan, Lemon, his tongue loosened by liquor so much that it nearly fell onto the floor, decided to get some things off his chest. Beginning by denying that he was pickled and claiming it was an “act” (Riiiight: see above screenshot] Lemon ranted,
“I don’t give a — what you think about me, what do you think about that,” he said. “I don’t care, I’m a grown-ass man, and I don’t care what you think about me, I don’t lie. I am who I am. I am a grown, successful black man who a lot of people hate because they’re not used to seeing me and people like me in the position I am to be able to share my point of view on television and it freaks people out and you know what? You can kiss my behind, I do not care. I don’t care. … I have one life. It is who I am, and I feel very … blessed and honored to be in this position, to be able to do this, for all of the hate I get, it’s motivation to me. Bring it. I don’t care.”
Naturally, the video has “gone viral.”
1. If CNN were a responsible organization with any respect for its viewers, journalism or the nation, it would fire Lemon for this arrogant, unethical, juvenile and offensive performance. Of course, we know CNN isn’t such an organization, but its apparent willingness to trumpet its perverse nature is remarkable. (Ironically, CNN’s in-your-face defiance of professional standards of respect and professionalism most resembles that of Donald Trump.)
2. What would have happened if Walter Cronkite, Bernie Shaw or Barbara Walters had behaved like Lemon did last week? Their credibility and the public’s trust in their judgment as journalists would have been destroyed, and rightly so. “Don Lemon is an American television journalist,” says Wikipedia, but he is not. Lemon is now regarded by CNN as an entertainment “talent.” He doesn’t have to be trustworthy. He just has to be pretty, court controversy, and make his fans happy. Trust is irrelevant; competence is irrelevant. That is what CNN tells us by allowing this narcissist to remain on the air.
3. There has been no word from CNN “media watchdog” Brian Stelter on the incident. Don’t expect any.
4. To be clear, Lemon already had reached the point—long ago– where keeping him as a news show host was indefensible. Lemon knows this at some level, so his New Year’s rant stands as one of the great “It’s good to be king!” King’s Pass gloats since Trump said he could shoot someone in Times Square without losing his supporters. “Look at me!” Lemon was telling us. “I’m black, I’m gay, and I’m untouchable! Deal with it!”
5. What an asshole, What a child.
6. The fact that CNN was finally forced to fire its other popular and absurdly unethical (and dumb) host Chris Cuomo undoubtedly provides an extra layer of armor for Lemon. Nonetheless, his conduct is remarkable for an employee who would normally be seen as treading on thin ice with his employer. Lemon crossed journalism ethics lines by giving advice to his pal Jussie Smollett when the actor was in the midst of pushing his fake hate crime scam, and he is being sued for the kind of sexual assault and harassment that cancelled Kevin Spacey.
7. Lemon is now officially a monster. CNN did him no favors by indulging his egotism and recklessness: now it seems inevitable that Lemon will self-destruct, because CNN has allowed him to believe he can do no wrong. Even a hopelessly irresponsible organization like CNN has a limit. It is inevitable that Lemon will reach it.
Pointer: Other Bill