Don Lemon stepped in it again Monday, apparently making what he thought was an off-mic remark about Jon Stewart and then, after an awkward pause, backtracking big time.
via: Daily Beast
CNN anchor Don Lemon attempted to make a quick on-air recovery on Monday when a hot mic caught him dismissing Jon Stewart as merely a comedian following the ex-Daily Show host’s tense exchange with a Pentagon official.
Last week, Stewart interviewed Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks at the War Horse Symposium in Chicago. In an exchange that went viral on social media, Stewart confronted Hicks on the military’s inability to take care of all of its service members despite its bloated budget.
“I can’t figure out how $850 billion to a department means that the rank and file still have to be on food stamps,” he told the second-ranking defense official. “To me, that’s fucking corruption.”
While airing that portion of the interview on Monday’s broadcast of CNN This Morning, as first noticed by TMZ, Lemon seemed unaware that his mic was live when he tossed out an aside about Stewart.
“He gets a lot of leeway with the comedian thing, though,” he said just as the audio cut out from the Stewart video package. Based on the several seconds of awkward silence that followed, it appears that Lemon believed he was speaking to his co-anchors off-air.
The veteran CNN host, who has recently had his share of on-air stumbles, then quickly tried to backpedal and frame his remarks within a larger discussion about Stewart’s cultural relevance and activism on behalf of military veterans.
“We were just discussing that Jon Stewart is so much more than a comedian. He is a thought leader,” Lemon declared.
His colleagues Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins, meanwhile, added that Stewart “needs no introduction” due to his advocacy for veterans’ rights while praising him for the tough questions he posed to Hicks.
“Yeah, when I was saying comedian and television host, he’s so much more than that,” Lemon sheepishly doubled down. “I don’t even know if you need to qualify Jon Stewart as that. But good interview there.”
Stewart, who now hosts The Problem on Apple TV+, probably wouldn’t take much offense to Lemon’s remarks. Throughout his storied career, he has long brushed off his political influence and impact by protesting that he is “just” a comedian. “There is a role for what we do, but it’s not one of transformation,” Stewart told fellow late-night comics Desus and Mero in 2020.
Exchange between @jonstewart and @DepSecDef Kathleen Hicks on the defense budget: "I can't figure out how $850 billion to a department means that the rank and file still have to be on food stamps. To me, that's fucking corruption." pic.twitter.com/2pu0geUyRE
— CSPAN (@cspan) April 7, 2023