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Dumb Lemon

It's hard to dislike Don Lemon, but I've managed it. He's articulate and bright-eyed and presentable and charming, and he exudes an attribute that it is easy to mistake for naive, youthful earnestness. For the longest time, I assumed he was about thirty years old. In fact I found out the other day that he's fifty-one.

Fifty-one! When I found out that he was that old, I realized that what I had taken for naive, youthful earnestness was out-and-out fatuity. That look of wide-eyed youth is, in fact, the look of a middle-aged man who has spent his life in front of cameras and never accumulated much knowledge – and certainly very little in the way of wisdom – about the complex, challenging world beyond the big-city TV studios.

This, of course, puts him in good company at CNN, where the authoritative delivery and on-camera skills of the likes of Wolf Blitzer and Becky Anderson go a long way toward covering up their staggering obtuseness and ignorance. As Donald Trump himself put it, in his typically subtle fashion, in a tweet on August 10, 2016: “Don Lemon is a lightweight — dumb as a rock.”

Lemon has apparently never studied anything other than journalism. Until landing at CNN in 2006, he spent his career bouncing, as in Ted Baxter's back story on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, from one local TV news operation to another – working as a weekend anchor here, a co-anchor there.

There's a reason why in Britain they call people like him “news readers” and not anchors or journalists – all they do, after all, is sit there and read aloud copy that (usually) other people have written. To call a guy like Lemon a journalist is to insult innumerable men and women around the world who, in exchange for small fractions of the kind of salary made by a Don Lemon, are courageously risking their lives in autocratic countries and war zones and regions controlled by drug lords out of a sheer determination to discover and report the truth.

In a discussion with a guest about gun control, Lemon said he had been able to buy an automatic weapon in Colorado; the guest asked him about the gun in question and ascertained that it was, in fact, a semi-automatic. Lemon didn't know the difference. (This kind of mistake is, of course, common among journalists who have strong opinions about gun control but who obviously know nothing about guns.)

Lemon dismissed his guest's correction, calling it a matter of mere “semantics.” The guest, knowing better, pointed out that he was talking about “the difference between breaking the law and not breaking the law.”