CNN Turns Tabloid: Guests Defend Kanye's 'Famous' Jab at Taylor Swift

On Tuesday's CNN Tonight, Entertainment Tonight's Nischelle Turner and liberal commentator Marc Lamont Hill defended rapper Kanye West's "I made that bitch famous" shot at Taylor Swift on his latest album. Turner claimed that West "raised her [Swift's] profile" when he stormed the stage during an infamous 2009 incident at the American Music Awards: "We started paying more attention to her then." Hill added, "He made her a lot more famous." [video below]

Anchor Don Lemon brought up the tabloid subject with Turner, Hill, and Ebony magazine's editor in chief, Kierna Mayo, after an extended discussion about rapper Kendrick Lamar's politicized performance at the Grammy Awards. Lemon shifted to the ongoing Swift/West feud, noting that "Swift threw some shade at Kanye West" during her acceptance speech for album of the year. He then asked Turner, "Does she have a point? Who won in this whole Kanye versus Taylor Swift thing?"

The Entertainment Tonight host responded by detailing how Swift "hit back" at West for his claim/jab, and "said, it's misogynistic; I didn't give you permission to do this; I didn't know about it." She continued with her defense of the rapper: "Do I think he made her famous? No, because she was already famous. Do I think he raised her profile? Yes — because I think that people started taking a second look and say, well, who is this Taylor Swift that got Kanye all riled up, that — that won over Beyonce? I do think that, and I do think that there's a little bit of — and I don't want to call it hypocrisy, but."

Lemon interrupted his guest and pointed out that "Taylor Swift has sold more records than Kanye West by like 75 million." Hill interjected, "Kanye is a rock star, doc. Come on!" Turner contended that "at that point in 2009, we were just starting to know Taylor Swift. She was still the country artist who was just crossing over. So, there was something to it — him raising her profile. He didn't make her famous...but we started paying more attention to her then and trying to figure out, what was so great about Taylor Swift that she won over Beyonce?"

Hill then made his own defense of West, but added, "He was disrespectful. He was misogynistic. I condemn what Kanye did...but he made her more famous." Turner underlined, "He was beyond disrespectful." Lemon wasn't buying his guests' argument: "I think it was disrespectful. I don't believe he made her famous. I think she was already famous."

Mayo concluded the segment with her own theory: "I just think she used this opportunity. I mean, granted, she's having her young feminist moment, and we celebrate that theoretically, but I do think that she used this opportunity to then ride Kanye for some added points."

The transcript of the relevant portion of the panel discussion segment from the February 16, 2016 edition of CNN Tonight:

DON LEMON: I want to talk about this — okay? So, let's play this. This is Taylor Swift threw some shade at Kanye West last night saying — you know, he made her famous. Take a look at this.

[CNN Graphic: "'Bad Blood' Between Taylor Swift & Kanye West?"]

TAYLOR SWIFT (from the 58th Annual Grammy Awards): I want to say to all the young women out there: there are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success, or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame. But if you just focus on the work, and you don't let those people sidetrack you, someday, when you get where you're going, you'll look around and you will know that it was you and the people who love you who put you there.
    
LEMON: Nischelle?

NISCHELLE TURNER, ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT HOST: Mm-hmm? (Lemon and panel laugh)

LEMON: Okay. So, a little preachy, a little uncomfortable—

TURNER: Where do I start? Where do you want me to start? (laughs)

LEMON: Some people were uncomfortable about the other performances. But, you know, does she have a point? Who won in this whole Kanye versus Taylor Swift thing?

TURNER: Well, I don't think it's over, so I don't think we can — we can crown a winner yet. But what I do think is that — you know, she was, of course, talking directly to Kanye because of the line in his song, 'Famous' — 'I made that bitch famous' — talking about Taylor Swift. And she kind of hit back and said, it's misogynistic; I didn't give you permission to do this; I didn't know about it. And so, they kind of had this back and forth.

Well, you know, what I do think — it's kind of interesting — because the line is, 'I made you famous.' And, of course, he's talking about, in 2009, when he rushed the stage at the American Music Awards, when he thought Beyonce should have won, and Taylor Swift won. Do I think he made her famous? No, because she was already famous. Do I think he raised her profile? Yes — because I think that people started taking a second look and say, well, who is this Taylor Swift that got Kanye all riled up, that — that won over Beyonce? I do think that, and I do think that there's a little bit of — and I don't want to call it hypocrisy, but—

LEMON: But Nischelle, Taylor Swift has sold more records than Kanye West by like 75 million. I mean, to say that—

TURNER: Well, it's a different audience as well—

MARC LAMONT HILL, HOST, BET NEWS: Yeah, but Kanye is a rock star, doc. Come on! Kanye is—

TURNER: But at — but — and, Don, at that point in 2009, we were just starting to know Taylor Swift—

HILL: Right—

TURNER: She was still the country artist who was just crossing over. So, there was something to it — him raising her profile. He didn't make her famous. She was — she obviously already won, but we started paying more attention to her then and trying to figure out, what was so great about Taylor Swift that she won over Beyonce? I do think that—

LEMON: All right. But the fact that she won means that she's already famous; and then, she's one of the top-selling—

TURNER: Well, yeah — she was!

HILL: He turned it up a notch—

LEMON: You know, artists in the world — in history. I mean, come on — come on, Kanye.

HILL: He made — he made her — he made her a lot more famous. And look, he was disrespectful. He was misogynistic—

LEMON: Marc, all right — whatever—

HILL: I condemn — I condemn what Kanye did—

TURNER: He was beyond disrespectful—

HILL: Yeah. He was beyond — but he made her more famous—

LEMON: I can't — I think it was disrespectful. I don't believe he made her famous. I think she was already famous—

HILL: He made her more famous; he made her more famous—

LEMON: Was it a moment — was it a pop in the culture and — yeah, sure. But did he make — no, we can't say that—

KIERNA MAYO, EDITOR IN CHIEF, EBONY MAGAZINE: But I think—

HILL: I didn't know who Taylor — I didn't know who Taylor Swift was — I didn't know who she was until Kanye—

LEMON: I got to go — quick, quick, quick—

MAYO: I just think she used this opportunity. I mean, granted, she's having her young feminist moment, and we celebrate that theoretically—

LEMON: Yeah; yeah—

MAYO: But I do think that she used this opportunity to then ride Kanye for some added points.

Culture/Society Labeling CNN CNN Tonight Entertainment Tonight Video Nischelle Turner Don Lemon Kanye West Taylor Swift Marc Lamont Hill
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