Don Lemon’s whole career is a cautionary tale on too many levels to list. Once a promising broadcast journalist blessed with screen charisma and valuable tribal connections (as a black, gay man), he could have evolved into a major positive figure in his industry. Unfortunately for him, Lemon was indulged, and pampered, and allowed to fall back on cheap emotionalism, flawed critical thinking and demagoguery, because, essentially, his ratings were good. His performance as a CNN anchor has now deteriorated to the level of a petulant child whose parents no longer have the sense or the power to rein in his outrageous behavior.
Last night Lemon reached his professional nadir, indeed a professional nadir for all of broadcast news. The closest analogy I can think of is the fictional Howard Beale’s famous rant in Paddy Chayefsky’s masterpiece “Network,” and that was satire. One of Don Lemon’s tragedies is that he takes himself so seriously, and yet his utterances are so utterly banal and devoid of wisdom or enlightenment.
I wish I could start with Lemon’s projectile logorrhea and give it the thorough deconstruction it deserves, but I doubt many readers will be able to last until the end of his unhinged gibberish and have the energy to do anything but take a nap, or maybe an overdose of strychnine. A competent, professional news organization would suspend or fire a host who threw self-restraint to the winds and unloaded such offal on its audience, but then, this is CNN, which has abandoned journalism standards, particularly involving Lemon.
I think the other comparison I see with Lemon’s astounding outburst is the famous dying speech of gangster Dutch Schultz. It was stream of consciousness gibberish too, but Schultz had an excuse: he had been shot, and The Dutchman was none too stable anyway.
All in all, I’d rather listen to Dutch.
Lemon’s rant is signature significance for an individual of untrained cognition and inadequate education who thinks he has wisdom to convey but doesn’t. For anyone to regard it as anything else is also signature significance, for a weak and biased mind. Here are just a few of the features worth noting…Lemon’s masterpiece will be right along.
1. Wouldn’t you expect the host of a major network’s news show to have some knowledge of history? Lemon refers to the riots as “unprecedented.” Of course, they aren’t. The civil rights riots of 1967 and 1968 were equally destructive. The Rodney King riots in Los Angeles. The riots during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. These riots may be even less justifiable than some of those, but the forces at work are similar. One of the primary tools of fearmongers and demagogues is to scream, “It’s never been this bad before!” It is a naked appeal to ignorance, from the ignorant.
Later, Lemon contradicts himself and references the Rodney King riots, which tells us that he has no idea what he’s trying to say. What a pro!
2. Lemon: “Perhaps this is some sort of mechanism for a restructure in our country or for some sort of change in our country for us to deal with whatever we need to deal with in this country.” Rioting and looting is a mechanism? “Some sort”? “Whatever we need to deal with in this country”?
If you can’t add anything more trenchant than that, a) what are you doing on a news desk?, and b) shut the hell up.
3. Lemon: “I actually don’t know — I am at a loss for words as a person sitting here guiding you through this. I really don’t know what to say at this moment except for this is America. This is where our country — this is what it has come to right now.”
What is, you babbling fool? What? If you don’t know what to say, then get off the air and let someone with the wit God gave a tortoise and the professionalism of, oh, Jerry Springer take over. This is the equivalence of a fire fighter standing by a burning building and crying, “Oh, it’s all so terrible!” “Oh, the humanity!” would be an upgrade. “Guiding” us through this? How is this pitiful blather guidance?
4. Lemon: “This is actually quite sad to watch and it is an indication and it’s indicative of the pain and sadness in this country of people who feel they have no other alternative but to exhibit this behavior in our country. No other option. When you have nothing to lose, you have nothing to lose.” They have no other alternative but to burn down businesses and loot? Lemon is actually saying that! More facile and indefensible logic would be difficult to imagine.
5. Lemon: “We all need to come together because if we can’t live together as Americans, then what do we have? Do we even have a country anymore? This is unbelievable what is happening here. Unbelievable.”
Oh, why don’t you just start screaming and tearing at your garments, you silly, petty, impotent man?
6. Lemon: “When did this country get out of control? When did we lose control of this country? When did we cease to be a country — a group of people who wanted to at least live together in spite of the differences? Because of our differences. Isn’t that the whole reason for the thing? That we are here because we want — because we are different. That we’re supposed to try this grand experiment and let’s not forget, if anyone judging this, I’m not judging this. I’m just wondering what is going on because we were supposed to figure out this experiment a long time ago. Our country was started because — this is how — the Boston Tea Party. Rioting.”
- It’s not “out of control,” you hysteric. You are.
- You, your network and your industry have been working around the clock to divide the country since the 2016 election. How dare you ask that question?
- The Boston Tea Party was not a riot. It was a clear-cut example of civil disobedience with a specific point of protest. . About a hundred colonists destroyed about 45 tons of tea over three hours. No buildings were burned, and no establishment was looted. I am aware of no source, contemporary or recent, that refers to the protest as a “riot.” This is the level of historical perspective CNN feeds its viewers
7. Then, of course, we get the partisan fake news. Lemon actually says that no Republicans have called for calm, despite the sentiments expressed here, here, here, here, here, and here, among many others.
Well, that’s enough for me: the thing is self-indicting, a res ipsa loquitur for the ages. Journalism just doesn’t get any more useless, incompetent, self-indulgent or unprofessional than this.
Buckle up! Continue reading