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Don Lemon

Don Lemon in June 2014 (Getty Image

Don Lemon wasted his breath when he told Joan Tarshis, a woman claiming she was raped by Bill Cosby when she was 19, “I don’t mean to be crude, but…” as he went on to be not only crude, but repulsive and pathetically ignorant to a woman speaking on her alleged victimization.

On the November 18 edition of CNN’s CNN Tonight, Lemon had a follow up interview with Tarshis in which he questioned whether she was really forced to perform fellatio on Cosby.

Don Lemon did so as only Don Lemon knows how to: in the most vapid, cringe-worthy fashion imaginable:

LEMON: Can I ask you this, because — and please, I don’t mean to be crude, OK?


LEMON: Because I know some of you — and you said this last night, that he — you lied to him and said “I have an infection, and if you rape me, or if you do — if you have intercourse with me, then you will probably get it and give it to your wife.”


LEMON: And you said he made you perform oral sex.


LEMON: You — you know, there are ways not to perform oral sex if you didn’t want to do it.

TARSHIS: Oh. Um, I was kind of stoned at the time, and quite honestly, that didn’t even enter my mind. Now I wish it would have.

LEMON: Right. Meaning the using of the teeth, right?

TARSHIS: Yes, that’s what I’m thinking you’re —

LEMON: As a weapon.

TARSHIS: Yeah, I didn’t even think of it.

LEMON: Biting. So, um —


LEMON: Yes. I had to ask. I mean, it is, yeah.

TARSHIS: Yes. No, it didn’t cross my mind.

First it was pull up your pants and pick up the trash on the sidewalk to stop white supremacy, now Lemon is suggesting women use their teeth as a tool for rape prevention. Never mind the reality that there are plenty of men currently rotting in prison for forcing women to perform oral sex on them. Or that the man at the source of these allegations likely weighs somewhere between 50-100 pounds more than the alleged victim(s) and that he used to play football in college.

Regardless of whether or not Lemon believes Tarshis’ account, there is a certain of respect one ought to pay anyone who steps forward about being sexually assaulted. Considering Don Lemon himself is a survivor of sexual abuse, one would imagine he of all people might understand this. However, as we’ve all come to learn, the star of Don Lemon has risen dramatically in recent years due to him being inconsiderate of other people and of victims’ circumstances.

This approach maybe be good for his public profile, and perhaps, CNN’s bottom line, but it comes at a cost. Don Lemon has trivialized the serious topic of race and now he’s set his sights on rape. No one working at a major cable news network should be rewarded for consistently being so utterly stupid and irresponsible.

In response to the criticism, on Wednesday, Lemon took 14 seconds to say the following:

“As I am a victim myself, I would never want to suggest that any victim could have prevented a rape. If my question to her struck anyone as offensive, I am sorry, as that certainly was not my intention.”

This one of those obnoxious apologies that doesn’t acknowledge the fact that intent does not outweigh impact. Moreover, it’s senseless to say “if my question was offensive” when there is no if about it, otherwise you wouldn’t be on air trying to save face and your job.

There are some anchors who are capable of analyzing the news, despite the fact that they are normally just reciting it to viewers. Lemon is not one of those people, as his opinions – especially in this instance – are not informed ones.

Don Lemon is too simple-minded for serious subject matter and too poisonous a voice for the platform he presently holds. CNN: Put him back on script or send him back to the field.

And if you don’t CNN, you’re letting people — Black people, poor people, rape victims — know that not only do you accept Lemon’s perverse points of view, you revel in them.

For a network that prides itself on being the news network, you should go back to acting like it you care about the news, as opposed to just loving the noise some of your employees can create while wrongly dissecting the news.

Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem, and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him @youngsinick.

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