CNN’s Don Lemon recently spoke with the Los Angeles Times’ Steve Battaglio about the vital role he has taken on in television news’ coverage of the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis and subsequent police brutality protests across the world.
One of the early paragraphs of the piece focused on his mother, the prominent role she plays in his life and his coverage of the news. If you’re a consistent viewer of CNN Tonight, you’re aware of this.
“I am very proud of him,”Katherine Lemon-Clark said of her son, now 54. “The only thing I don’t like is how people attack him. I’m concerned about his safety. I don’t care how old he gets. That’s my child. I’m always concerned about him.”
Battaglio writes: “Lemon-Clark has seen the vicious comments written about her son online since he became more outspoken on his nightly program CNN Tonight. The vitriol intensified after Lemon called President Trump a racist in response to comments he made regarding immigration in January 2018.”
The recent weeks have been exhausting for Lemon, who has spent his two-hour program receiving information from CNN correspondents on the ground amid the protests across America. He has also led breaking coverage throughout the day, including Floyd’s first memorial service.
“I think about how much longer I can continue to do this at this pace and the amount of negativity that comes my way,” he told Battaglio.
Lemon might be exhausted, in more ways than one, but CNN most certainly wants him to stick around a little while longer.
As Battaglio notes (and TVNewser can confirm), CNN has attracted the largest prime-time audience in the advertiser-favored 25 to 54 age group since May 26, when the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis suddenly surpassed Covid-19 as the country’s leading story. The 2.4 million watching Lemon’s two-hour program in May was +75% from the previous year, the most growth of any cable news show that month.
But the Louisiana native, who joined CNN in 2006 after a stint at the NBC affiliate in Chicago (NBC 5) and is now the only African-American cable news anchor in prime time, says he is still energized by having a role in shaping the current national discourse on race relations.
“I love what I do right now,” he said. “I feel like I found my voice and found my groove. This is my time to be me on TV.”