A while back I laid down a prediction in the National Review office that CNN Tonight host Don Lemon is on a journey toward out-of-the-closet conservatism that would see him joining Fox News within six months. I’ve now been at National Review longer than half a year, so my prophecy hasn’t quite come true, but I still say Lemon is on his way, for a very basic reason: Ultimately almost everybody’s political affiliations are determined less by philosophical principle than by which group makes them feel more comfortable. And nobody on the left has a kind word for Don Lemon.
Case in point: this bizarre Washington Post piece mocking the “aggressively subjective” host for frequently making “controversy-sparking” remarks that have “ruffled a few feathers.” General assignment reporter Peter Holley puts together a fairly random list of Lemonisms — including his defense of Charles Barkley’s observation that “there are just as many black idiots as white idiots”; his disagreement with the post-colonial-theory-for-illiterates wisdom of “rapper/activist” Talib Kweli; his consideration of the possibility that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared into a black hole; and his slipping of the word “obviously” into an otherwise simple observation that he could smell marijuana in the air during last week’s riots in Ferguson Missouri. This last seems like a laudable policing of unnecessary adverbs, but Holley’s claim that the Twitter reaction to the comment was “as heated as the burning police car several blocks away” makes you wonder what he’s been smoking. Holley writes:
It remains unclear which came first — Don Lemon inserting his agitating personal opinion into his coverage or his bosses rewarding him with more air time for doing just that. Either way, the combination has been a volatile one. In a matter of months the one-time golden boy with the charming smile has gone from a talking head to a head that seems incapable of not talking when other people are trying to answer his questions. Not since gaffe-laden Rick Sanchez has a CNN anchor courted this much controversy.
Here’s a good journalese-to-English translation for you: When somebody uses the word “controversy,” he’s really saying, “I haven’t got anything to report but I want to gin up some interest in a thing I personally don’t like.” It’s hard to see what’s so striking or outré about Lemon’s pants-on-the-ground tirades against clownish clothing styles in the hood, which fogies old and young have been making for decades, and which in any event Lemon always prefaces with extensive throat-clearing and to-be-sures, lest scolds like Holley accuse him of breaching the phony-baloney wall between news and opinion. It’s funny how The Most Trusted Name In News is never “controversial” in its frequent attacks on the tea party — whose firebreathing radicals to date have looted no Dollar Tree stores and burned exactly zero police cars. (To CNN’s credit, a vice president for the network defends Lemon’s apostasy from the center-left as “having a personality,” adding that this is “a positive attribute.”)
And by the way, after nearly nine months of searching, nobody has proven that MH370 was not swallowed by a black hole.