Don Lemon Out at CNN … Tucker Carlson Booted from FOX … Both Good Moves
I recently finished a commentary as to why Don Lemon should be canned by CNN. It was entitled “Time for Don Lemon to go.” Ironically, he was canned before the commentary appeared here. In view of the firing of Tucker Carlson, I have decided to address them both in one commentary – incorporating the unpublished article on Don Lemon.
“I have been monitoring CNN since the news company was purchased by David Zaslav. At the time, he expressed a determination to stop the network’s rating decline by moving it away from its leftwing ideological bias – returning it to traditional journalistic standards.
Zaslav made a lot of correct moves early on. He dropped so-called media critic Brian Stelter – who misused his job description to present radical leftwing commentaries. Also canned was White House reporter John Harwood – who did more leftwing editorializing than reporting. The very biased morning team of John Berman and Brianna Keilar were demoted to less visible responsibilities.
To replace the Berman/Keilar team, CNN took Don Lemon out of the prestige of his own nighttime show and teamed him up with Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins as the new morning show triumvirate. At the time, I called Lemon’s reassignment a bad move if CNN was truly moving to the center.
Lemon also created a problem for CNN when he made sexist remarks about Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley.
Weeell … I think I was right. Lemon just cannot give up his editorial license to spew personal opinions – or contain his arrogance. There have been a series of minor but noteworthy examples – from argumentativeness with more conservative guests to snide remarks and disdaining facial expressions. He has a personality conflict with Collins — one that brewed over as a gossip tabloid item not long ago.
In a recent interview with Vivek Ramaswamy — one of the Republican candidates for President – Lemon lost it (again). He turned what was intended to be an informative discussion of issues into racist contretemps. When Ramaswamy pointed out that gun ownership was among the rights that were granted to Blacks as a result of the Civil War – but denied to them by Democrat administrations in the old Confederacy – Lemon went ballistic.
Lemon said he did not agree with Ramaswamy … then said his guest was wrong … and finally called him a liar.
Lemon took the racist view that as a Black man, he is more qualified to speak to Black issues and Black history. Lemon said that “as a Black man,” he was insulted by Ramaswamy’s argument – and accused the candidate of insulting all Black people.
In fact, it was Lemon’s limited knowledge of Black history that was the problem. He lumped the era of Reconstruction – when freed slaves enjoyed Constitutional freedoms in the South – with the post-1877 era when Democrats violently took over the southern states and denied Blacks their constitutional rights for the next 100 years.
Lemon took up so much time in the interview that there was no time to cover the issues Ramaswamy came on camera to discuss. It was so obvious that in ending the interview, Harlow apologized to Ramaswamy and promised to bring him back in the future to talk about other issues, including China.
If CNN wants to regain a reputation for unbiased reporting, the network will have to address its “Don Lemon problem.” Basically, he has to go.”
And now he is gone. Now I am hoping that CNN will eliminate Jim Acosta from the weekend programming.
I know that some readers will take exception to my positive reaction to the firing of Tucker Carlson from his primetime perch at FOX News. They should not be surprised. In a number of commentaries over the recent years, I have expressed my dislike for Carlson. I did not like him when he was doing guest shots on “FOX and Friends.” I thought giving him the top spot in the daily lineup was a bad decision – replacing Bill O’Reilly.
I never liked Carlson’s style. I found him to be condescending and arrogant. His mocking laugh grated on me. It was not just style, however. I had substantive issue disagreements with him – of two varieties.
First, there are those issues on which we genuinely disagreed. The most notable and most current one has been his opposition to supporting Ukraine against an unwarranted and unlawful invasion by Putin — and the subsequent war crimes. I am a total hawk on the issue of Ukraine.
I believe it is in America’s existential interest to defeat Putin and restore the official borders of Ukraine. That means forcing Russia out of eastern Ukraine – including the Crimea.
Like President Trump, Carlson has a disturbing admiration for Vladimir Putin. I see him as another Adolph Hitler – a messianic madman obsessed with conquest and capable of unimaginable ruthlessness and cruelty. I recall criticizing Carlson for defending Putin because the Russian despot did not do anything to him personally, I mean … really? That is contemptibly stupid.
I am not surprised that Carlson would play to Trump and the hardline supporters on camera and offer a significantly different opinion of the forty-fifth President in private – at one point referring to Trump as a demon. I am surprised, however, that Carlson would allow his hypocrisy to be captured on permanent media – emails and text messages.
That is not to say that Carlson is a fool. No. No. No. You do not acquire and hold the largest audience in cable news by being a fool. He was selling a product – controversial commentary. While his 3 million viewers swamp the competition, it is still less than one percent of the American public. He found a subset responsive to his alarming and too often irrational commentaries.
Carlson benefited from the time slot. He had the best time slot in the entire FOX line-up. His successor will do very well in that position after a period of adjustment – regardless of who it will be. The great American middle class has made FOX the number one cable news network. A change of host in that primo time slot should not change things too much. Carlson viewers are not about to switch over to CNN or MSNBC.
While FOX management gave the obligatory statement that the “departure” was mutual, it was most certainly a firing – and a sudden one, at that. Carlson closed of his Friday show with, “We’ll be back on Monday.” Even Carlson had no idea that Friday was his last show. That was a brutal dismissal – but what can one expect after dissing the bosses with locker room language – not to mention costing the network $780 million dollars?
I compliment both CNN and FOX News for making a tough – but good – decision in removing two of the biggest names in cable television. If only MSNBC would impose the same standard of professional journalism. But then … they would be off the air.
So, there ‘tis.