Monday, September 27, 2010

CNN anchor goes from covering a news story to becoming a news story

Don Lemon, left, urges John Campbell III, Gabrielle A. Richardson and Gary A. Foster Jr., supporters of Bishop Eddie Long, to keep an open mind about the sexual allegations against Long. (From Richard Prince's Journal-isms) Watch Video Clip
CNN's Don Lemon said "it just came out" during an interview he was doing on the Bishop Eddie Long scandal. Over the weekend, Lemon admitted, on-air, to three young members of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and his national television audience, that he was the victim of a pedophile at the age of 6.

On the surface, a brave revelation which drew many messages of support to Lemon. I feel for Lemon and any person who has endured the pain a pedophile inflicts on a young mind; a young psyche. But I question the journalistic wisdom of revealing that personal secret while doing his job.

Lemon told Richard Prince of the Maynard Institute's "Journal-isms" blog, "It was unplanned and I am human. There was no agenda behind it." That is certainly possible, but in the more than 20-years that I spent working in television news, on the local level, I never had a deep personal secret spontaneously fly out of my mouth, while on-air, related or unrelated to the subject matter being discussed.
That said, I believe Don Lemon to be a talented journalist and a pleasant anchor to watch on CNN's newscasts. However, his revelation and the manner in which he injected it into his interview with the three young New Birth members seriously calls into question his ability to objectively anchor coverage of or report on the Eddie Long sexual abuse scandal. Quotes from the CNN segment that Prince referenced in his column indicate that Lemon shared personal opinions about pedophiles and their manipulative actions and asked the young church members to keep open minds about the possibility that there might be some truth to improprieties in the long case. Lemon went from being an impartial anchor conducting what should have been an objective interview to serving in the role of an expert invited to participate in the discussion to add a particular perspective. As a journalist and representative of a major news provider, the latter is not his place.

While I applaud Lemon for having the courage to reveal what happened to him and I acknowledge that his story can-- and very likely will-- inspire others to come forward and move closer to healing from that type of pain, CNN should remove Lemon from further direct coverage of the Eddie Long scandal to maintain objectivity in the eyes of viewers.

What do you think? Chime in!

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