I like Don Lemon. Liked him when he was a straight news anchor, liked him more when he started throwing in some opinion. Some of those opinions skewed to a conservative way of thinking, so my approval might be expected, but not so much. For me, if a person is willing to go against their own (presumed) orthodoxy, I’m more willing to hear criticism of mine. To my ear, such as it is, he seemed to express many concerns of the Black, not-necessarily-liberal community. I suspect that this is a much larger segment than we think. He encouraged a more honest discussion of these issues, without the buzzwords and blaming that too-often accompanies, particularly on other news networks.
As many have noted, CNN went just a touch overboard with their coverage of Malaysian Air Flight 370. Mr. Lemon has made his own inimitable contributions to that coverage. I cut a little bit of slack, since the wall-to-wall coverage is more of a management decision, which the talent is then left to put on the air. God help us that legitimate news people are taking questions from Twitter, hashtag #WTF, but that’s hardly limited to CNN. Still, discussions of black holes and supernatural intervention are not your best career-enhancers.
The transition from ‘news’ to ‘opinion’ seems to be nearing completion, and I fear that Mr. Lemon is losing his grip. This exchange with Will Cain, which could have been at least slightly illuminating, descended into a pointless back-and-forth accusing Mr. Cain of attacking the First Lady for her foray into ‘hashtag activism‘. Now, you can agree or disagree with Mr. Cain, but his is not an unusual position. For decades, conservatives have complained about this type of “activism” that accomplishes nothing, but makes you feel good about yourself and establishes that you “care”. Remember the AIDS ribbon? This is the high-tech version. Perhaps, as such, it has more effect, and that is worthy of debate. That’s not what they did.
There is an unfortunate tendency amongst some conservatives to harshly criticize the First Lady, in a way that goes beyond simple disagreement. I have seen enough of it to make the rash assumption that Mr. Lemon may have been, in part, reacting to it. That’s one thought. The other is that he may be trying to establish his bona fides for the next time he provokes liberal ire by criticizing something they like, or deem that “only a conservative” would condemn. Well, I can tell him from personal experience that that never works. The people who slam you for a critique won’t give a moment’s thought to all the times you agreed with them.
A third thought is that this is Real Don, or the version that the network wants. I hope not. He and Anderson Cooper seem to have the ability to host reasoned, thoughtful discussions. Unfortunately, there’s not much of an audience for that. Bummer.