Who says journalists don't have a sense of humor? Well, whoever they are, they may not be entirely wrong. After a verbal ribbing from host Larry Wilmore at the White House Correspondents Dinner, CNN anchor Don Lemon responded with a gesture your mom would totally hate — and, naturally, the cameras caught it all.
"Some of America's finest black journalists are here tonight," Wilmore winds up the joke, before adding "Don Lemon's here too." Wilmore gave Lemon an extra shout-out, referring to him as an "alleged journalist." Lemon responded to jab by flipping up his middle finger with a mega-watt grin as the cameras panned over. Before you recoil with disgust or clutch your pearls, remember that it's probably hard to get roasted in a room that includes your peers, leaders of the free world, and Kendall Jenner without reacting in some way — live TV or not. Regardless, it's one of those sweet, satisfying and sorta-NSFW moments that are all-too-rare on CSPAN. (So, like, of course, we'll take it.)
Lemon was notably named one of "the worst of the worst" via Columbia Journalism Review's (CJR) 2014 DART awards — a dubious dishonor given to outlets and journalists who mess up big time. Per the CJR's "Darts and Laurels" blog:
Live television is exceedingly difficult to produce, of course, but Lemon's gaffes this year offer a case study in how to choose words wisely — or not.
On March 20, he asked guests whether Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 could have been swallowed by a black hole: "I know it's preposterous, but is it preposterous?" He later compared spanking children to training dogs and probed similarities between the release of US Army POW Bowe Bergdahl and the Showtime series Homeland. When an alleged Bill Cosby rape victim appeared on his show on Nov. 18, he lectured, "You know, there are ways not to perform oral sex if you didn't want to do it ... Meaning the use of teeth, right?" Less than a week later, as protests turned violent in Ferguson, MO, he described the scene: "Obviously, there's a smell of marijuana in the air." Lemon's job isn't easy. But he's earned a DART for going there. Obviously.
While at first it was hard to tell if this memorable WHCD moment was all love or the start of a #MajorMediaFeud between Lemon and Wilmore about the former's record, later on it was proved to be some good-natured ribbing and little else. Not long after the show ended, Lemon took to Twitter to clear everything up. "All in good fun. I love @LarryWilmore," he told his followers along with a photo of the two cheesin' it from a prior meeting.
(So much for the CSPAN ~scandal~ of my dreams.)