CNN’s Don Lemon screwed up. Amazingly there was a broad bipartisan shaking of heads about the co-host of CNN This Morning suddenly arguing that presidential candidate and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was beyond her “prime” because she was -- wait for it -- 51!
Haley had been out on the campaign trail making an issue of a candidate’s age (meaning Donald Trump and Joe Biden). So my former CNN colleague Don took it from there, instantly drawing dagger looks from co-hosts Poppy Harlow and Kaitlin Collins.
This being the media, the Lemon remarks instantly went everywhere. As here at Newsweek where this was the headline:
Don Lemon Stuns Co-Host After Saying 50-Year-Old Women Are Past Their Prime
This being the era of social media the quality of his tweeted apology was instantly picked apart.
All to the good. Lemon’s remarks were just plain dopey. Also known as stupid. It would seem obvious to most that someone - anyone - can be in their “prime” anywhere along the line of their adult life, “prime” being arrived at through the highly individual life experiences of each individual human being.
In my youth, I worked for President Reagan. He was 69 when elected and 70 a few weeks after being sworn in. In the day he was decidedly in his prime, that having been reached by the collective of his own personal, professional and political experience. But one doesn’t have to be a president to be in one’s prime. One can be, in fact, anything professionally speaking. Your plumber or doctor or any other adult can be in their prime. Clearly Don Lemon was wrong.
But it was what came after the Lemon apology that should be concerning. Here is but one headline, fittingly from CNN itself:
Don Lemon to return to CNN, will undergo formal training following sexist comments, network boss says
The story reports:
“New York CNN — CNN anchor Don Lemon will return to the network’s air on Wednesday and will participate in formal training following sexist comments he made last week, the network’s chief executive, Chris Licht, said in an email to employees Monday night.
‘I sat down with Don and had a frank and meaningful conversation,’ Licht wrote in a memo. ‘He has agreed to participate in formal training, as well as continuing to listen and learn. We take this situation very seriously.’”
Stop right there. What is "formal training"? Is this a gold-plated "re-education" camp from a woke corporation? Or could it just be an attempt for Lemon to stop treating his co-hosts like "the help." There is nothing wrong with a boss disciplining an errant employee, particularly one in the media if that mistake is on global display. In a blink it appears CNN has gone from a simple and proper reprimanding of a momentarily errant employee, shifting instantly to a culture war mentality.
The central point here is disturbingly clear. The left-wing desire to shut down “wrong thinking” that is not ideologically in synch with whatever is the leftist gold standard of the moment does not change.
Did Don Lemon say something stupid? Yes. Did he apologize? Yes. Should he have apologized? Yes.
But to demand that he undergo “training” -- or he may lose his job if he doesn’t -- there’s where CNN stepped over the line.
And the concerning thing is that this type of ideological indoctrination is going on in one major American institution after another - not just with media like CNN. Whether its corporate CEO’s, academia, or even sports the unspoken demand is to think the correct - aka left-leaning - way…or you’re headed for “training” -- or you’re out.
Just the other week in this space I took note of the woke attacks on legendary football coach Tony Dungy. What caused the uproar over Dungy’s presence as a sports commentator on NBC? “Coach Dungy let it be known that he would be attending this past week’s 50th March for Life in Washington.” Oh the horror!
And as was noted, Dungy wasn’t alone in the sports world being attacked for not having the correct political views. Tim Graham took note of this, writing:
“On January 17, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov infuriated sports journalists when he refused to wear a rainbow jersey for warm-ups during ‘Pride Night,’ citing his Russian Orthodox faith. ‘I respect everybody and I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion.”
The point in all of this is simple. Bad enough that all this woke nonsense is out there. And as mentioned, in the case of Don Lemon, saying something that is clearly dumb deserved challenge.
But there is a considerable difference between challenging someone for saying something dopey and suggesting an apology - and insisting that they be sent to what appears to be an American version of a re-education camp for the appropriate “training” - aka leftist political indoctrination.
It would be nice to imagine that this sort of “off to the camps for training” indoctrination mentality is at the end of its ropes. But don’t bet the ranch.
Not good. Not good at all.