Mediaite’s new podcast, The Interview, debuted in August and instantly became a must-visit for the biggest names in cable news and media. This week, we’re looking back at some of the most talked-about episodes since our launch.
Don Lemon cares very little if he offends his viewers. He understands that, as the only Black prime time cable news host, he has a responsibility to speak hard, and occasionally uncomfortable truths, to a nation going through something of a racial reckoning.
Speaking with Mediaite editor-in-chief Aidan McLaughlin, for Mediaite’s new podcast The Interview in late August, Lemon embraced the burden he feels to speak out against racial injustice in the United States, “because who else is going to do it?”
“I am much more vocal about speaking out, I don’t worry about offending people anymore,” he says. “We’re past the point of offense. If you don’t like it, well too bad. Let’s just deal with it.” Lemon says the recent series of killings of Black men by police — all seen in graphic detail on our phones and televisions while trapped at home — has changed him. He was “heartened” by the national response to that violence, but has become “much more vocal” in speaking out against racism in his personal life and coverage on air.
Lemon has also been a leading voice in criticism of the Trump administration on CNN. And like all other cable news personalities, he is not immune to comparisons to his colleagues that appear on competing networks, especially Fox News, where he is often a target of derision.
When asked how he feels about his status as a recurring villain on Sean Hannity’s and Tucker Carlson’s shows, he laughed it off. “I look at it and go, wow, I looked chunky that day, or I was skinny that day, or my hair looks good that day, or I needed a haircut,” he said dismissively. “It really doesn’t affect me. I expect it. I try not to traffic in the criticize the other network thing. I don’t really like to do that, but there are times when you have to, because this, I like to call it state-run or state TV, they’ve become an arm of the Trump administration.”
“So sometimes it’s impossible not to criticize them, but it doesn’t really bother me. I expect it. And I just, I laugh at it because usually, they take clips out of context and out of order, and from years ago, in order to fit their narrative,” Lemon added. “And I just kind of laugh at it because … it doesn’t really make sense.
Lemon said he used to watch Fox News “religiously” but has tuned out, arguing the network is stocked with Trump “apologists.” When pressed for a favorite, he gave it up for Neil Cavuto as his favorite:
The host that I really have hope for and I can watch now, quite honestly, is Neil Cavuto. I love watching Neil. I think he has a great style. I think he’s really good. I think he’s honest. And of course, Chris Wallace he’s really — he’s not really on Fox. I don’t really see him as a Fox News anchor, I just see him as a journalist who happens to work for Fox. And then I can watch Bret, usually when he does a straight newscast. But when he’s surrounded by the talking heads and the opinion folks, I have to turn the channel. But that’s really about it. From more from the morning show until Neil Cavuto comes on, there’s nothing there to really see. And then once Neil is gone, there’s nothing there to see until Neil comes back on the next day. And Bret.
For more fascinating conversations with the biggest names in media, subscribe to Mediaite’s The Interview podcast via iTunes. And listen to the full episode with Lemon below. We’ll have more of The Interview’s highlights from 2020 throughout the week.
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