Last week, CNN’s Don Lemon spoke with actor Terry Crews about the Black Lives Matter movement. In recent weeks, Crews has been outspoken on the subject by stating that he wishes to “unite people,” that he does not want to see Black Lives Matter morph into “Black Lives Better,” and warning against threats of violence from the increasingly belligerent BLM movement.
Never one to fail to protect “the narrative,” Lemon practically scolded Crews by rejecting the need to even discuss wider issues affecting “black lives” - such as black-on-black violence - arguing that “the Black Lives Matter movement was started because it was talking about police brutality, if you want an all Black Lives Matter movement that talks about gun violence in communities, including Black communities, then start that movement.”
In some ways, Don Lemon is correct. “Whataboutism” is a common tactic used by those who wish to oppose political positions without addressing them directly. There are some who use “what about black-on-black crime” in order to avoid acknowledging or addressing the subject of police brutality, and yes, the Black Lives Matter movement was indeed started to address this specific issue.
Unsurprisingly, Don Lemon’s intellectual accuracy is shallow and short lived. By lecturing Terry Crews on the Black Lives Matter movement, the CNN host made three colossal errors. The first was the application of a popular tactic in the mainstream media’s tool belt - the assumption of bad intent. While “what about black-on-black crime” is indeed used by those who wish to dismiss the issue of police brutality, those who broaden the focus to include black-on-black crime are not necessarily doing so in order to avoid acknowledging the existence of racism or police brutality. For many who care about this issue, police brutality is an important and yet statistically small component of the broader subject of black victimization.
Secondly, it is wrong of Don Lemon to demand the sort of specificity from critics of the Black Lives Matter movement that he would never dream of demanding from the movement itself. If the focus of the BLM movement was solely on the subject of police brutality, then his argument would be valid. After all, to paraphrase Lemon during his one-sided tirade against Terry Crews, we wouldn’t reject the worthiness of an anti-cancer movement until they acknowledged that they were also anti-HIV!
However, Don Lemon’s claim that police brutality is the sole focus of the Black Lives Matter movement is simply a boldfaced lie. The BLM movement is openly political, with its co-founder describing herself as a “trained Marxist” with an expressed desire to “get Trump out.” The BLM platform frequently expands to discuss privilege, transgenderism, and the deconstruction of the “Western-prescribed nuclear family.” Don Lemon is applying an insurmountable intellectual handicap to the BLM movement by allowing their focus to freely expand and contract as needed while simultaneously preventing the focus of its critics from doing the same.
Don Lemon’s final failure is indicative of our modern media. Mainstream journalists no longer exist to pursue truth. They now exist as activists, who work to steer their audience in the direction of “their” truth. This rejection of objectivism is the death of journalism. Don Lemon may be correct regarding the original intent of the Black Lives Matter movement, but he is failing in his journalistic duty when he refuses to address political hypocrisy, what the BLM movement has become, and by using his interview segments as a platform to berate his guests in favor of a preferred narrative.
Like too many journalists, Don Lemon is attempting to use a cloak of claimed objectivism to shield us from his obvious subjective activism. The cloak is wearing thin.