I had to stop drawing the cartoon I was drawing yesterday to do something about Tucker Carlson. In the middle of drawing that cartoon, the editor of the Tucson Sentinel, which publishes my cartoons, messaged me on Facebook to tell me that CNN had fired Don Lemon. This editor knew I was working on a Tucker cartoon. I looked at my TV, which was tuned to CNN, but they weren’t reporting on Don Lemon. However, I did get an alert on my iPhone from CNN about the firing. I’m subscribed to so many news alerts, it’s ridiculous.
After I had posted my Tucker cartoon, one of my regular Twitter trolls tweeted at me that Lemon had been fired too as if by that point I still wouldn’t have known about it. Of course, he was trying to take some of the attention off the firing of Tucker Carlson but in doing so, he did what so many on the right fail to do and that is make an equivalence.
We don’t have official reasons from Fox News or CNN about why they fired their anchors, with the announcements being about an hour apart. The main speculation over Tucker’s departure is that he angered management with some internal comments. Tucker called them “fuckers.” With Don Lemon, some reports state he was fired because recent controversies have decreased his popularity and some guests have refused to go on the air with him.
CNN’s statement said, “Don will forever be a part of the CNN family, and we thank him for his contributions over the past 17 years. We wish him well and will be cheering him on in his future endeavors.” I will too. I like Don Lemon.
Apparently, Lemon was informed of his firing by his manager and he tweeted, “After 17 years at CNN I would have thought someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly.” CNN fired back at that tweet, calling it “inaccurate” and that Lemon had been offered to meet with management but he had refused.
Lemon had been in the CNN dog house since last February when he stated on air that 51-year-old presidential candidate Nikki Haley wasn’t in “her prime.”
Lemon added that a “woman is considered to be in her prime in her 20s and 30s and maybe 40s.” When his female co-hosts, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins jeered him, he doubled down with, “I’m just saying what the facts are. Google it.” If you do “Google it,” you’ll probably find a picture of Don Lemon. He later apologized to the newsroom and agreed to a corporate training program to address his on-air behavior. But he even got a public rebuke from Chris Licht, the chairman of CNN.
But comparing Don Lemon to Tucker Carlson is a false equivalence. First, Don Lemon is a journalist and Tucker Carlson is a propagandist. Lemon has never knowingly told lies on the air. Tucker has. While Lemon has engaged in some sexism and ageism, Tucker has too along with racism, transphobia, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, etc, etc. The only thing comparable is that two of the biggest stars for each network were fired on the same day. Oh, yeah. There’s one other thing. They’ve both hired the same entertainment lawyer to deal with their dismissals.
Don Lemon is a good journalist. I miss his banter with Chris Cuomo during the handoff between their prime-time shows on CNN. Cuomo was fired for violating journalism ethics and lying about it when he helped his brother, former New York governor Andrew Cuomo deal with the media during a sex scandal. Both Cuomos lost their jobs, which they were both very good at.
Fortunately for Lemon, his greatest sin is saying something stupid. Unlike Chris Cuomo and Tucker Carlson, Lemon doesn’t have a history of violating the basic ethics of journalism. Hopefully, he lands better than Cuomo did, who’s now at NewsNation.
Although, landing at NewsNation would be better than working at Fox News.
Creative note: Since I work for CNN (I freelance one cartoon a week which is published Sundays in the Opinion newsletter), I felt it would be glaringly bad for me not to do a cartoon on Don Lemon, especially since I did one on Tucker. I don’t think other cartoonists are required to draw a cartoon on both, but I am.
Music Note: I listened to Goo Goo Dolls.
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