Don Lemon Gets Burned Dissing Jon Stewart on Hot Mike
CNN’s Don Lemon isn’t having a good week… er, month… er, year. We’ll get to all of that, but Lemon piled on himself today, getting caught live on the air taking a shot at Jon Stewart. At least at this point, Lemon has plenty of experience attempting to pull his foot out of his mouth.
Lemon’s latest stupidity happened after Jon Stewart went viral last week for his interview with Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks. The bit that caught fire on social media is Stewart confronting Hicks on the military’s inability to care for service members and veterans. “I can’t figure out how $850 billion to a department means that the rank and file still have to be on food stamps,” he says in the popular clip. “To me, that’s fucking corruption.”
CNN covered Stewart’s interview, but when the pre-packaged story was finished, Lemon didn’t realize he was live on camera. Sure, Stewart said what a lot of people were thinking, but Lemon groused that, “He gets a lot of leeway with the comedian thing, though.” It’s not hard to imagine what happened next — CNN floor directors waving their arms to get Lemon’s attention, pointing to the red light atop the camera pointing at him, mouthing the words, “You’re on the air, idiot!”
Cue the Lemon backpedal: “We were just discussing that Jon Stewart is so much more than a comedian. He is a thought leader!” Fellow talking heads Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins tried to help with the save, praising Stewart for asking the tough questions (that Lemon apparently believes journalists aren't allowed to ask).
Lemon knows he’s busted, doubling down on the course correction. “Yeah, when I was saying comedian and television host, he’s so much more than that,” he qualified in case we didn’t get it the first time. “I don’t even know if you need to qualify Jon Stewart as that. But good interview there.”
Phew. It’s just the latest in a series of Lemon on-air goofs with which CNN doesn’t seem to have a problem. Here’s a rundown of some recent gems:
- In February, he noted that politician Nikki Haley, 51, was past her sell-by date. “Nikki Haley isn't in her prime. Sorry. A woman is considered to be in their prime in 20s and 30s and maybe 40s.” When pressed on the weird assertion in real time, he suggested that his colleagues Google when a woman is in her prime and see for themselves. Oops.
- Earlier that same month, The New York Post reported that Lemon screamed at co-host Kaitlan Collins for interrupting him on the air, causing Collins to run from the studio. A producer had to tell Lemon to take a day off to “cool down.”
- In December during a segment on women’s soccer, Lemon told Collins and Harlow that men’s soccer was “more interesting to watch.” When his female co-hosts pushed back, Lemon again doubled down. "The men's team makes more money because people are more interested in the men."
Unfortunately, Lemon’s behavior is even worse behind the scenes. Variety published an expose last week on the CNN host’s misogyny when he’s not on camera. His former co-host Soledad O’Brien wasn’t surprised at all the damning stories Variety turned up.
“Don has long had a habit of saying idiotic and inaccurate things,” she said, “so it sounds pretty on brand for him.”