Don Lemon Scrambles to Backpedal After Realizing His Comment About Jon Stewart Was Caught on Hot Mic
To describe Don Lemon as “embattled” would be a rather generous interpretation of his ongoing issues at CNN.
The 57-year-old host has been upsetting people left and right, seemingly fraying relationships with everyone within his orbit.
The list of Lemon’s aggrieved reportedly includes his “CNN This Morning” co-hosts, his boss, his dear “pal” and women in general.
Now we can add comedian Jon Stewart.
This particular tale, ironically enough, began on Monday’s episode of “CNN This Morning,” where Lemon and co-hosts Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins were discussing a viral clip of Stewart vulgarly calling out the “f***ing corruption” in Department of Defense spending after audits found hundreds of billions of dollars unaccounted for.
WARNING: The following video contains vulgar language that some viewers may find offensive.
“I may not understand exactly the ins and outs and the incredible magic of an audit, but I’m a human being who lives on the Earth and can’t figure out how $850 billion to a department means that the rank-and-file still have to be on food stamps,” Stewart told Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks during a Thursday symposium at the University of Chicago.
“Like, to me, that’s f***ing corruption. I’m sorry,” he said.
On CNN, when that clip was shown, there seemed to be a disconnect between the audio from the video clip and the audio from the studio; Lemon appeared to be caught telling his co-hosts that Stewart “gets a lot of leeway with the comedian thing.”
There then was an awkward pause with dead air filling the time slot (anyone who’s spent even a little time around television studios knows that is a major no-no) before Lemon, perhaps realizing what he’d just done, tried to make a transition.
After six agonizing seconds passed, he said, “So Stewart questioned why some veterans are facing food insecurity despite the Defense Department’s massive budget. Hicks acknowledged it has been a problem in the past, but said that the Biden administration has made it, quote, ‘major priority.'”
Then came Lemon’s explanation for his previous comment:
“We’re just discussing, Jon Stewart is so much more than a comedian,” the CNN host said. “He’s –”
Perhaps not having faith in where Lemon was taking this, Harlow jumped in to say Stewart needed no introduction.
Lemon finished his prior thought by calling Stewart a “thought leader.” The CNN trio then began speaking in broader platitudes about some of the causes that Stewart champions (taking care of veterans is a big issue for the former “Daily Show” host).
At the end of the clip, Lemon appeared to try and offer one more explanation for saying Stewart got a lot of “leeway.”
“We were saying ‘comedian to television host,'” he said. “He’s so much more than that. I don’t even know if we even need to qualify Jon Stewart as that.”
The apparent hot-mic moment led to a torrent of criticism on social media, with many people piling onto the beleaguered Lemon.
One Twitter user called him “toxic,” adding that “once again @donlemon proves that @cnn needs to fire him.”
Annnnnd once again @donlemon proves that @CNN needs to fire him. He’s toxic. This might seem minor, it dude can’t even apologize properly or own up to mistakes in a genuine way. It’s past time for him to go. https://t.co/6DdCieOtEg
— J.Frank Hernandez (@JFrankNupe) April 10, 2023
A hot-mic accident, even one as awkward as above, is rarely grounds for termination.
But given all of the other turmoil that has been surrounding Lemon, it’s more than fair to wonder aloud just how thin the ice at CNN must be for the embattled host.
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