Don Lemon on-air reporting has often made the newsman a headline topic himself, but it appears the CNN anchor is unfazed by critics.
In the past, Lemon’s coverage on news stories such as the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, where he questioned if the plan was swallowed up by a “black hole” left many viewers — including CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker — a bit annoyed.
In the November 22 issue of The New York Times magazine, Lemon defended his on-air style. As he sees it, he says he’s simply performing his duties as a journalist and doesn’t get offended by anyone’s opinion.
“Instead of being offended or defensive or whatever, I try to be curious about why that person feels that way, why someone has that particular opinion,” he said. “I understand people being offended and hurt, but as a journalist, I gotta move beyond that. I can’t do that.”
Last month, Lemon earned criticism after a heated on-air debate with former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin, about a viral clip of a South Carolina high school student assaulted by a police officer. His comments — in which he insisted on the need for additional information before passing judgement on the officer’s actions — resulted in a Change.org petition requesting his removal from the network.
According to the 49-year-old, his approach to covering news topics is not to be a “provocateur,” but to get people to think and have discussions — a style he believes has contributed to his success.
“I am not setting out to be a provocateur. I am setting out to inform people and to get people to think,” he said. “I do think my career has been helped, because part of my job is to get people to have discussions.”
Lemon added that he may have decided a career as an advocate for social change — citing the career of Malcolm X — if he didn’t pursue journalism.
“I’d probably be a writer like James Baldwin. Or I would probably be an activist. But not like Dr. King, even though I admire him,” Lemon said. “I’d probably be more of a Malcolm X. I believe the best way to improve yourself is to improve yourself.”
Read more of Don Lemon’s New York Times Magazine interview here.