CNN Boss Thought Don Lemon’s Malaysian Airline Conspiracy Theory Was Idiotic

October 6, 2014 4:00 p.m.

You weren’t the only one to cringe when CNN anchor Don Lemon engaged in some wild on-air speculation earlier this year about the missing Malaysian Airlines plane. So did Lemon’s boss.

New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported that CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker thought Lemon’s suggestion that the jetliner might have been swallowed up by a black hole was, well, idiotic.

When there is a news event that captures the public imagination, it will dominate CNN and preempt the prime-time shows. Zucker calls it “swarming and owning the big breaking-news stories.” The strategy was most vividly on display during CNN’s breathless—and seemingly endless — coverage of the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, lowlighted by anchor Don Lemon speculating on camera that the missing plane might have flown into a black hole. (Zucker was frustrated by the gaffe: “Don, don’t be an idiot.”)

Lemon took CNN’s breathless coverage of the missing plane to outrageous extremes, once devoting airtime to a discussion of nearly every conspiracy theory associated with the disappearance.

He even wondered if the mystery was the result of a “supernatural” event, a suggestion he may well have taken from a random Twitter user.

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