The Columbia Journalism Review blog Darts & Laurels has named CNN’s Don Lemon one of the worst journalists of 2014. Lemon, who saw this year become a series of flubs and bad sound bites, can do nothing but grow from this experience, since he can't do much worse.
According to the blog, which announced winners of the “Darts” award, Lemon was the only named journalist, with other “award winners” including programs or publications like Fox & Friends and Rolling Stone.
Lemon amassed quite the résumé of head-scratching, wince-inducing moments, as the CJR blog notes. On March 20 the CNN host, very seriously, asked guests if missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was swallowed by a black hole: “I know it’s preposterous,” he added. “But is it preposterous?”
Lemon also famously argued that spanking children is akin to training dogs and said he believed that the release of U.S. Army prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl was similar to the fictional Showtime series Homeland, CJR notes. In addition, while covering the riots in Ferguson, Mo., after the nonindictment of now retired Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, Lemon nonchalantly added, “Obviously, there’s a smell of marijuana in the air.”
But the pièce de résistance in Lemon’s beautifully absurd line of reasoning in 2014 happened on his Nov. 18 show, when he lectured a reported Bill Cosby rape victim about how to prevent sexual assault: "You know, there are ways not to perform oral sex if you didn’t want to do it,” he said. “Meaning the use of teeth, right?”
Joining Lemon in the kiddie pool of bad journalism from 2014 is Rolling Stone (for its infamously debunked University of Virginia gang rape story), CBS’ 60 Minutes (which did an entire piece on Ebola in Liberia, called “The Ebola Hot Zone,” that didn’t include one interview with an actual person from the affected area) and Fox & Friends (for its insensitive Ray Rice elevator joke).