Don Lemon has served CNN faithfully since 2006, but only recently has his unique voice and talent begun to fully emerge.
For Lemon, one of the channel’s prime-time news anchors, it has seemed at times that no inference is too inane, no line of questioning too absurd. The anchor proved this once more on Tuesday night, when he asked a woman who said she had been raped why she did not simply bite the penis of her attacker to end it.
Here are some of Don Lemon’s greatest hits:
Children Require Corporal Punishment Like, Say, Dogs
Be it trouble with your Norwich Terrier or your 4-year-old son, Lemon’s advice is the same: “You have to teach who’s in control.”
During a panel discussion on the child abuse allegations against Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in September, Lemon said initially that he was hesitant to compare corporal punishment of children to physically training dogs.
But then he did it anyway.
He ran with the argument for the next several minutes.
“Listen, I went to training — I hate to do this — with my dog, and fear is the same thing,” Lemon said. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s fear or what have you, I’m saying this, because it stops you from doing it.”
Agreeing With Bill O’Reilly That Black People Need To ‘Pull Up Your Pants’
In July, after Fox News host Bill O’Reilly delivered one of his standard lectures to the black community, Lemon chimed in to say the conservative pundit didn’t go far enough.
“Black people, if you really want to fix the problem, here’s just five things that you should think about doing,” Lemon said.
“Here’s number five: Pull up your pants,” he said.
“Walking around with your ass and your underwear showing is not okay,” he said.
Lemon said the practice began in prisons, whenever guards took away inmates’ belts. “It evolved into which role a prisoner would have during male-on-male prison sex.”
“The one with really low pants is the submissive one,” Lemon said. “You get my point?”
Playing ‘The Knockout Game’ With A Black-Belt Rabbi
Feeling Disrespected By Actor Jonah Hill
After a run-in with Jonah Hill in a hotel in 2012, the CNN anchor took to Twitter to call a Hill a tool, apparently for the sole reason of not being deferential enough to Lemon.
“Think he thought i was bellman,” Lemon wrote.
In tweets since deleted, Hill responded: “i walked out of the restroom and found you waiting for me. Shook hands, said hi and was on my way. Sorry if you found that rude.”
Said hi to @jonahhill in hotel. Think he thought i was bellman. Didn’t know his name til bellman told me. A lesson to always be kind.
— Don Lemon (@donlemon) November 9, 2012
.@ArtemisLoud He was a tool.
— Don Lemon (@donlemon) November 9, 2012
On-Air Argument With Rapper Talib Kweli
Talib Kweli had a lot to say when he appeared on CNN to discuss media coverage in Ferguson, Mo. at the height of the unrest in August. But so did Don Lemon. The two spoke over each other for the majority of the interview.
“I would listen to you if you had the decency — let me finish. If you had the decency to greet me,” Kweli told Lemon.
“I invited you,” Lemon shot back.
“You didn’t invite me. Nicole invited me, first of all,” Kweli said. “You came up. You didn’t say nothing to me. You were on your phone the whole time. You asked how to pronounce my name. Let me finish what I have to say or else I’m going to leave.”
Confusing Semi-Automatic And Automatic Guns
Journalists like Lemon will tell you that details matter. And in a heated exchange with conservative radio host Ben Ferguson in August, Don Lemon did not do so well with the details.
Ferguson called Lemon out for misunderstanding what constitutes an automatic weapon.
“Listen, I think you are getting into semantics,” Lemon replied. “Regardless of what you wanna call it, an automatic or a semi-automatic weapon—”
“It’s a big deal,” Ferguson interjected. “It’s the difference between breaking the law and not breaking the law.”
Lemon later told TPM he misspoke, but that he stood by his point.
Wondering If Malaysian Airplane’s Disappearance Was ‘Supernatural’
When cable media seized upon the ratings gold rush that was the tragic yet intriguing disappearance of MH370, Lemon effortlessly outpaced his peers in the race to the most ludicrous angle.
(This was no easy contest: CNN’s sister network, HLN, interviewed self-described psychic healer Lisa Williams to discover the jetliner’s location.)
On March 17, after a throat clearing about going to church and “the supernatural,” Lemon posed the question to the History Channel’s Brad Meltzer.
“People are saying to me, why aren’t you talking about the possibility — and I’m just putting it out there — that something odd happened to this plane, something beyond our understanding?” Lemon said.
“We all kind of roll our eyes at conspiracy theories,” Meltzer said, “but what conspiracy theories do is they ask the hardest, most outrageous questions sometimes.”
Wondering If The Plane Disappeared Into A Black Hole, Like The Show ‘Lost’
Perhaps realizing that “the supernatural” lacked scientific rigor as an explanation for the plane’s disappearance, Lemon introduced a different angle on-air three days later.
In an interview with Mary Schiavo, a former U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general, Lemon rolled out a series of theories from CNN viewers, including the idea that the plane was swallowed up by a black hole, “just like the movie ‘Lost.'”
“That’s what people are saying,” Lemon reported. “I know it’s preposterous — but is it preposterous, you think, Mary?”
“‘Lost’ is a TV show,” she reminded him.
This incident reportedly earned Lemon some flack from CNN president Jeff Zucker, who advised the anchor: “don’t be an idiot.”
A coda: According to his bio at CNN.com, Lemon serves as an adjunct professor at Brooklyn College, where he educates the journalism industry’s next generation.