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Chris Cuomo's Out at CNN, Should Don Lemon Be Next?

Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

One of the most stunning things about Chris Cuomo’s firing from CNN is the way the network acted shocked at Cuomo’s actions.

“He has made a number of accusations that are patently false,” CNN said in response to Cuomo’s claims that CNN president Jeff Zucker was aware of how Cuomo was helping his brother. “This reinforces why he was terminated for violating our standards and practices, as well as his lack of candor.”

CNN anchor Brian Stelter similarly accused Cuomo of “violat[ing] journalistic ethics and norms not once or twice, but many times,” calling his actions “a serious breach of standards and practices.”

But, as CNN and its remaining “talent” proclaim devotion to journalistic ethics and standards, it seems that we’re finding out that the network doth protest too much about Chris Cuomo.

Related: The Chris Cuomo Saga Is Far From Over

On Monday, Jussie Smollett, 39. who is currently on trial for his poorly staged hate crime hoax, testified that he was communicating with CNN anchor Don Lemon via text message in the early parts of the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) investigation into the alleged hate crime. Lemon reportedly tipped off Smollett that the CPD didn’t believe his story.

According to Smollett, on Jan. 29, 2019, he was assaulted by two masked men who hurled racist and homophobic insults at him, beat him, poured bleach on him, and then put a noose around his neck. Smollett says at least one of his attackers told him he was in “MAGA country.”

The story was absurd, and police officers were reportedly skeptical of it. Eventually, two men, brothers Abel and Ola Osundario came forward and told police Smollett paid them $3,500 to jump him.

Smollett was indicted by a grand jury in February 2020. This came after previous charges were inexplicably dropped by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. Smollett was presumably a free man who didn’t have to pay restitution to the city, which spent $130,000 in overtime on his case. But his initial prosecution was invalidated by a judge.

Smollett pleaded not guilty to six counts of disorderly conduct for filing false police reports. If convicted, he faces as much as three years in prison.

The revelation of Don Lemon’s improper involvement immediately sparked comparisons between his actions and those of former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, who was fired on Saturday for his involvement in his brother’s sexual misconduct scandal. There is, however, a key difference. Cuomo refused to cover the sexual misconduct allegations against his brother, claiming he couldn’t be objective. Don Lemon continued to report on the Jussie Smollett case, despite his involvement in the story.

Chris Cuomo was suspended and ultimately fired for his involvement in his brother’s scandal, and it seems appropriate that Don Lemon’s actions receive similar scrutiny from the floundering network. On the surface, it appears that Lemon’s actions were a more significant breach of the journalistic ethics and standard practices that the network claims are so important to it. While it’s true the network has already lost its top anchor, if CNN really wants to maintain the appearance of caring about journalistic ethics and standard practices, Don Lemon ought to be suspended immediately and fired upon an internal investigation.

Frankly, this is a huge opportunity for CNN. With terrible ratings, the network is in desperate need of an overhaul. New talent and objective reporting could help it regain the audience it lost over the years.