CNN’s Don Lemon wants to be perceived as an arbiter of truth, but as he endeavored to defend his biased punditry as fact-based journalism in lieu of his new boss’s reported vision for the organization, the radical network host was found spinning his own quotes.
(Video: Comedy Central)
The cable news personality joined Comedy Central’s “Hell Of A Week” Friday where he sat down with host Charlamagne Tha God to discuss “the importance of authentic journalism.” Near the end of the interview, Charlamagne brought up CNN’s new president Chris Licht’s new editorial direction and suggested it would ultimately censor Lemon.
“[Licht] wants to shift CNN from an opinion-based partisanship news to a political center. Will you still be able to call it like it is?” he asked.
Lemon appeared to deny the premise that the host set forth.
“Let me just say, I don’t think that’s exactly what Chris is saying,” he replied. “I think that’s a narrative that has been placed in the medium. I think what Chris wants to do is to be able to have Republicans and Democrats and whatever your political stance is on CNN so that you can be accountable and that you can answer for it.”
However, Licht has gone on the record stating, “In a time where extremes are dominating cable news, we will seek to go a different way — reflecting the real lives of our viewers and elevating the way America and the world views this medium.”
This led to Axios reporting that Licht “wants to give personalities that may appear polarizing a chance to prove they’re willing to uphold the network’s value so that they don’t tarnish CNN’s journalism brand. For on-air talent, that includes engaging in respectful interviews that don’t feel like PR stunts,” leading to speculation that Lemon was among those being warned to get in line or he’ll be shown the door.
Who’s in, who’s out? New CNN chief reportedly monitoring talent unable to adapt to neutral direction https://t.co/KaMNDIy73g
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) June 7, 2022
“Yes, I will be able to do what I do on CNN…which is to tell the truth,” he argued in spite of the report, “which is to inform the American electorate and the American public and also the world, because we’re an international news organization. So if I’m not allowed to do that, then I will go on and do it somewhere else.”
Licht had also circulated a memo reported by the New York Post that read, “I think we can be a beacon in regaining that trust by being an organization that exemplifies the best characteristics of journalism: fearlessly speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo, questioning group-think, and educating viewers and readers with straightforward facts and insightful commentary while always being respectful of differing viewpoints.”
Contrary to this call for respect of different viewpoints, Charlamagne called out Lemon for saying, “‘Republicans must be treated as a danger to society by media,’ you said, ‘they cannot be coddled.'”
The CNN host immediately fired back and claimed, “I didn’t say Republicans must be treated, I think that was a headline–that’s another problem that’s with journalism. Everything is aggregated now so people sort of write what a headline is…that’s not what I said.”
“I said, ‘that we–there shouldn’t be a false equivalence between what Democrats are doing and what Republicans are doing.’ I said,” Lemon went on, “‘What Republicans are doing for the most part, and I mean leadership…what they’re doing now is dangerous for our democracy.'” The host then accused the party of “leaning into and often promoting…white supremacy.”
In and of itself, Lemon’s correction of Charlamagne was barely a distinction from the quote the host had presented. When compared to what Lemon had actually said, he seems even less like one whose job is “to tell the truth.”
“We sit around and we talk about these things and we want to give this false equivalence to Democrats and Republicans. That is not where we are right now,” he said in July. “Republicans are doing something that is very dangerous to our society, and we have to acknowledge that. We have to acknowledge that as Americans, we must acknowledge that as journalists because if we don’t we’re not doing our jobs.”
Don Lemon defies CNN’s new direction, says journos must warn world ‘Republicans are danger to society’ https://t.co/MinSYGYygU
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) July 15, 2022
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