When the complexities of the world are almost too much to bear, Americans turn to CNN anchor Don Lemon for either a simplistic explanation or a ridiculously off-base attempt at journalism. In response to the controversy over President Obama‘s use of the N-word in a podcast with Marc Maron, Lemon went with the former—and his on-air hot take was actually pretty smart.
On Monday night’s broadcast of his show CNN Tonight, Lemon held up the Confederate flag, stared his viewers dead in the eye, and asked, “Does this offend you? It’s the confederate flag!”
Then he held up a poster with a single word and asked the same question.
Here we go: @donlemon with a #ConfederateFlag and a "Nigger" banner. "Does this offend you?" #CNNTonight pic.twitter.com/gU8pfP9ars— CNN Commentary (@CommentaryCNN) June 23, 2015
Racism and oppression are serious subjects. Lemon should be commended for trying to shock his viewers into awareness of the continuing racial tensions in America in much the same way as Obama tried to do in his podcast interview.
That being said, there is one funny part of this story: Somewhere in Atlanta there’s a poor CNN intern who had to go to Walmart, buy a Confederate flag, and then go to the print center to order a poster with the world’s most offensive word printed on it.
Given the segments that have made Lemon famous in the past, this might actually be some of his finest work.
Illustration by Max Fleishman