Don Lemon Blames 'Black Crime' on 'Thug' Culture in 2013 CNN Clip That Could Get Him Fired Today

CNN anchor Don Lemon agreed with then-Fox News host Bill O’Reilly about the causes of what he called “black on black crime” in a resurfaced clip from 2013.

Lemon, who is black, sounded very different seven years ago than he has when speaking about race and crime in America in recent years. 

Then: In the CNN segment, which was resurfaced by conservative commentators on social media on Wednesday, Lemon played a clip of O’Reilly saying “violence and chaos in black precincts” is the result of “the disintegration of the African American family” and “personal decision[s]” made by many “young black men.”

Lemon said O’Reilly was “right” but “doesn’t go far enough: Addressing “black people,” the anchor suggested five ways they could “fix the problem”:
  • “Pull up your pants.”
  • "Stop saying the “N-word.”
  • “Respect where you live,” and stop littering.
  • “Finish school,” and stop telling kids who attend class and “speak proper English” they’re "acting white.”
  • “Just because you can have a baby, it doesn’t mean you should”: Absent fathers are an “express train right to prison. And the cycle continues.”
Lemon, echoing then-President Barack Obama, went on to urge “black folks” to “pay close attention to the hip-hop and rap culture that many of you embrace, a culture that glorifies everything I just mentioned, thug and reprehensible behavior, a culture that is making a lot of people rich, just not you. And it’s not going to.” Tucker Carlson played part of Lemon’s 2013 clip on his top-rated Fox News show on Wednesday night.
  • “Wow, Can you imagine what would happen if Don Lemon or his body-building buddy over there or any of these hair hats said something like that on ‘CNN Tonight’ or MSNBC?” Carlson said, apparently singling out another CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.
  • “That would be their last live broadcast ever. They would be fired immediately. You can’t express views like that, and so they don’t. Tells you a lot.”

To be fair, Lemon did receive some backlash at the time. 

Now: Amid nationwide protests and social upheaval over U.S. racism, Lemon has lately argued on "CNN Tonight" that black Americans are systematically oppressed and has rejected the kind of personal responsibility rhetoric he once espoused.

On the show on Monday, Lemon chastised actor Terry Crews for his criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement as “extreme” and divisive.”

“It’s got to be all black lives matter,” Crews said, adding that “black people need to hold other black people accountable.”

But Lemon disagreed: “Black Lives Matter is about police brutality and about criminal justice. It’s not about what happens in communities when it comes to crime. People who live near each other, black people, kill each other. Same as whites … it happens in every single neighborhood.”

"CNN Tonight" did not respond to a request for comment. 

Lemon is one of many prominent liberals who have changed their tune on racial issues as cultural norms have rapidly shifted, coating dozens of people in media and other industries their jobs.
  • Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat and vice presidential contender, on Sunday decried Mount Rushmore as land “stolen from Native Americans” just a few years after she hailed the national memorial as a symbol of patriotism.
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