CNN anchor Don Lemon first came to the internet’s attention back in 2011 when he became the network’s first openly gay news anchor (sorry Andy Coops). Since then he has achieved a unique kind of internet fame with his particular talent for saying the wrong thing and the wrong time. The CNN host has inserted his foot into his mouth so often over the last few months that his diet now consists entirely of penny loafers. Just today he managed to once again climb to the uppermost tier of the YouTube top twenty with a clip in which he asked a Muslim human rights lawyer if he was a supporter of ISIS based solely on his religion. Lemon’s ill-considered thoughts on rape, police violence, and the Ferguson riots haven’t endeared him to the internet’s vocal social justice community but they have gotten his harebrained clips shared more frequently than any of CNN’s other recent coverage. So is Don Lemon really is a dope, or a viral outrage mastermind? You decide with our list of Don Lemon’s seven most outrage inducing moments:
Bach Off- We’re not sure what Don said to then presidential hopeful Michelle Bachmann back in 2011, but it was enough to prompt two of her aides and her husband to forcibly shove him away from the congresswoman and into a nearby golf cart. At the time public sympathy favored Lemon given Bachmann’s habit of ducking tough questions, but in hindsight the story about Lemon getting shoved had way more viral potential than any answer he could have gotten from the candidate.
Over The Hill – In 2012 Don went properly viral again, this time by picking a Twitter fight with actor Jonah Hill. That exchange earned him some air-time on the CNN Live Roundtable.
Fight! – The Ferguson protests are where the wheel really start to come off for Don. The mainstream media faced significant criticism for its limited coverage in Ferguson, a charge that Lemon attempted to refute during an on-air interview with hip-hop artists and activist Telib Kwelli. The interview quickly devolved into a shouting match between the two that ended with Kwelli threatening to walk off.
High Minded Journalism – Lemon’s personal biases continued to be a question throughout his coverage of Ferguson, but an unsubtle slip garnered major internet attention when, while covering the protests Lemon added that “Of course there’s the smell of marijuana in the air.”
The Most Popular Kid In Class – Don Lemon didn’t make many friends covering Ferguson, as evidenced by this clip.
Take A Bite Out Of Crime – So he was probably happy to get back into the studio. Unfortunately his mouth seems to work faster than his brain even in a controlled environment. Lemon touched off another storm of internet outrage while interviewing Bill Cosby rape accuser Joan Tarshis. Lemon asked Tarshis why she hadn’t attempted to bite Cosby during the assault, a question that was perceived as crass and insensitive for casting doubt on Tarshis’ story.
Back To What He Does Best – Most recently Don Lemon added another feather to his viral gaffe cap while interview Muslim human rights activist Arsalan Iftikhar. After repeatedly asking his guest about Muslims around the world and their perceived support of terrorist organizations, a charge that Iftikhar directly denied, Lemon followed up by asking Iftikhar if he personally supported the terrorist movement ISIS. The clip has been viewed 270,000 times and currently hovers at number two on YouTube’s most viewed charts.
So is Don Lemon simply a hapless goon whose mouth frequently races ahead of his mind on camera, or is he a savvy troll cynically manipulating the internet’s outrage machine for viral views? Let us know what you think in the comments below.