It’s not easy being a broadcast journalist these days, but as the old expression goes, “when life gives you lemons or in this case, Don Lemon, you make lemonade.” And that is exactly what he does – with gusto. Going where no news anchor should (or would), the gaffetastic co-host for CNN Tonight, Don Lemon, has been named one of the worst journalists for 2014 by the Columbia Journalism Review. (Somewhere Al Sharpton must be breathing a sigh of relief.)
Forget journalism, accuracy or unbiased reporting with Don Lemon, it’s pure, unadulterated entertainment. Some are even calling Lemon America’s first reality news star – “becoming a household name for all the wrong reasons” and he’s “more Kardashian than Cronkite,” as was reported earlier this month by Philadelphia Magazine.
Lemon’s certainly no one-hit wonder with all the class and style of Ron Burgundy, minus the polyester leisure suit, the hits just keep coming. Rest assured, if Don Lemon’s lips are moving chances are we will be talking about him on social media, earning him a special hash tag #DonLemonReporting. For those of you not watching CNN, which is most of you, here’s a recap.
So, let’s start from the top, and my personal favorite, Lemon was discussing the missing Malaysian Flight 370 back in March of this year to a panel of guests talking about comments from viewers suggesting that the planes disappearance could be something we just don’t understand. He said, “Some people are asking about conspiracy theories, black holes, and the Bermuda Triangle. I know it is preposterous to ask, but is it preposterous?” He directed this question to a stunned panel. What is truly amazing is that no one burst into laughter or even cracked a smile. I give the panel of guests an A+ for maintaining composure and Don Lemon gets high marks for giving us something to talk about. Planes disappearing into black holes hardly passes for hard-hitting news, but would however make a great episode of Star Trek.
Moving on to the Ferguson, Missouri coverage, our smooth-operating anchorman was on the scene talking to Anderson Cooper, also of CNN. He described the sound of gunshots, cars being vandalized, people scattering and he added, “Obviously, there’s the smell of marijuana in the air.” I’m not sure what he meant here that was so obvious, but he seems to be implying that when a group of black protestors gather, marijuana is expected. Good thing Lemon, himself, is black or heaven knows what the repercussions of this gaffe would be. Very racist!
The third example of Lemon at work was a stellar performance and truly highlights his interviewing skills. Again, Lemon was in Ferguson talking to rapper and activist, Talib Kweli about media coverage of Ferguson. As Lemon was discussing the fair and balanced coverage by CNN of the event the conversation quickly descended into an argument and then, an all-out shouting match. “You did… I did not. You did…I did not.” Way to go, Don, it’s not only fair, and balanced but comedy gold!
I must give him an honorable mention for his interview in September about how parents discipline children. Lemon defended corporal punishment comparing spanking children to – yes, training dogs! He said, “Listen, I went to training – I hate to do this- with my dog. You have to teach who is in control.” In his own words he’s really evolved on this. Yep, he sure has and he ain’t just talking about his view on discipline, but it’s also his throw caution to the wind style. We can edit later. The only problem with editing is that it’s not possible on LIVE television.
Lastly, and one that has been in the news most recently, was the interview with the alleged Bill Cosby rape victim, Joan Tarshis. Without getting graphic, Lemon was giving advice about a particular sex act saying, “If you didn’t want to do it… meaning the use of the teeth, right?” He did not go there, did he? Well, yes, he did!
With Don Lemon’s meteoric rise to celebrity-hood, he’s simultaneously taking CNN and journalist integrity to new depths. Mainstream media continues to tumble in ratings and viewership, sending many to the internet and new media outlets. Regardless, 2014 was a banner year of cringe-worthy moments for Don Lemon. We’re not really sure if it’s reality news, entertainment news, or not necessary to cover the news at CNN. Whatever it is, we certainly don’t want to mess with a good thing. Here’s to you in the New Year, Don Lemon. We’ll be watching!