Don Lemon is a troll. Much like the mouth-pursing bite of lemons, Don is a harsh flavor to ignore and it burns when he gets in your eye (when you see him on-screen). Seriously, how is this man still employed, or better yet, how is he still a thing? Don is a CNN news anchor, so I think it’s safe to assume he’s still working there because he fits the CNN mold perfectly–there’s no news, just a bunch of conversations, or Lemon’s best impression of Ron Burgundy in Anchorman.
In fact, it was GQ’s Taffy Brodesser-Akner who did a profile on the hated news anchor and the title, Anchorman: The Legend of Don Lemon compared him to the fictional news guy who made us laugh for the length of two movies. Lemon makes us laugh almost everyday, but it’s the kind of giggle that’s more nervous about his choices as an anchor than it is about his comedic talents.
Akner prefaced her interview with:
“So maybe he’s not Walter Cronkite. Maybe he’s done some famously awkward interviews, gotten his facts wrong, and made CNN the butt of more than a few jokes. But that won’t stop Don Lemon. Because here’s the thing: He can fill hours of nothing with a crisp, news-like something. No matter what he says, no matter how badly he screws up, he never blinks. That’s his gift: He just keeps on going.”
He fills the dead air with “news-like something.” Well that sounds promising. Not! This is literally the reason that most of us have had it up to here with Lemon. He says the things that pop up into his head, but that’s not ok in the news. I’m guilty of this same sometimes gold, other times, not so much approach to conversation, but the difference between me and Lemon is that I’m in an office with a group of women who are debating topics with me and I’m not on live television.
There’s a responsibility Don Lemon has as a news anchor that he seemingly shrugs his shoulders at. From the GQ profile, you got a sense of Don that you knew existed, but you’d rather not know.
In the beginning of the interview, Akner convinces Lemon to have dessert, even though he’s trying to avoid it because he needs to be skinny for CNN. Akner suggests the sorbet and he quickly corrects her in a Don Lemon way, saying, “It’s pronounced, sorbette.” She didn’t have the guts to correct him. She even questioned her own intelligence, but when the waiter corrected Lemon with a simple, “It’s sor-bay sir,” Akner was perfectly fine in believing that Lemon is satisfied with his own “imperfection.” She said:
“Lemon is not embarrassed. ‘Oh,’ he says, and then nods, because you learn something new every day, and he doesn’t look at me to say how embarrassed he is, he doesn’t look with a gulp at the tape recorder, he doesn’t attempt a joke to clean it all up. He just says, ‘That’s what I’ll have, then.’ And we move on. That he can say it, recover from it, and move on without needing to know what I think of it—this is sort of everything you need to know about Don Lemon: Don Lemon is human, and Don Lemon is not perfect, and Don Lemon is so much more fine with his humanity and his imperfection than anyone I’ve ever met.”
Imperfection, sure. But humanity? Nah, bruh. There’s no humanity in condescendingly correcting someone when you’re actually wrong. There’s also zero humanity in asking an alleged victim of Bill Cosby, Joan Tarshis if she considered using her teeth to avoid rape, especially when he admitted to having gone through molestation as a kid. He addressed this horrific suggestion in the profile after some prodding and revealed that he told his molester that the next time, he’d bite his dick off. Apparently, that stopped his molester from ever hurting him again. Don’s story of triumph over his attacker isn’t unique, this tactic may have worked for other victims, but on national television, your thought about how you combated rape as a kid can’t be what you ask this woman.
Oh and asking a Islamic scholar if he supports ISIS–chalk that up to Lemon doing what he does best…filling hours of nothing with “crisp, news-like something.”
Akner says, “It’s the mantra of all of CNN: Keep going, keep talking. People don’t walk out on conversations.” They don’t? I recall rapper Talib Kweli threatening to walk off the interview with Lemon while in Ferguson and most recently, Baltimore’s controversial mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake walked off during an interview with Lemon. But we actually stand with Lemon on that one because he wanted to know what took so long to declare a state of emergency. Before I digress too much, just know that Don Lemon has a history of pissing people off, namely America.
It all started during the age of outrage for Trayvon Martin’s murder at the hands of overzealous neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. Lemon boldly agreed with the master of putting Black people down, Bill O’Reilly and claimed O’Reilly didn’t go far enough and then infamously offered Black people ridiculous tips on how to be better. One of those tips included pulling our pants up. This is when we all collectively proceeded to find the door where we could be waiting on Don Lemon at. This Black man was on CNN telling Black mothers, “Just because you can have a baby doesn’t mean you should.” Sir.
Don was surprised at the backlash and said the people didn’t expect him to have an opinion. That’s not it. People are upset because Don uses his opinion to create problematic pockets in his broadcast that he fills with the trolliest comments we’ve ever heard. We think it’s refreshing that Don has a point of view, but to take his own people to task on national television–that’s a whole new type of disrespect that made it really easy to write him off as Uncle Tom’s intensive, but bright-eyed little brother, Don.
But, apparently Don doesn’t give a f*ck that most of us cringe during his CNN show. And perhaps that deserves at least an inkling of respect.
“Lemon has spent a lifetime so far out of sync with people’s expectations of him that he seems unconcerned with them, sometimes even oblivious to them: of how a black man should act, how a gay man should act, how a survivor of sex abuse should act. All this—high school, the black box—made him into the man he is today. Someone who has learned that there are no guidebooks for a man as ambitious as he is, and who has no fucks left to give about what anyone thinks of him.”
Akner is urging us to see Lemon as a flawed human being who deserves our respect, if not our love. And well, that’s difficult to do given the way he continually shows us that he loves the way his foot tastes.
“Sure, he’s said some dopey things, but lots of cable-news anchors say lots of dopey things. Why him?,” Akner asks. Because we’re demanding that he stop telling Black people to do better and do better himself. Don’s avoided the mirror for a long time and it’s time he faces himself. Akner says we “deserve” an anchor like Lemon, but I say, speak for yourself.