CNN's Don Lemon Reveals Boyhood Abuse
Monday, September 27, 2010
In the course of interviewing young congregants at the Atlanta area megachurch pastored by Bishop Eddie Long, CNN anchor Don Lemon disclosed on a live newscast Saturday night, "I am a victim of a pedophile.
"Let me tell you what got my attention about this and I have never admitted this on television. I'm a victim of a pedophile when I was a kid. Someone who was much older than me, and those are the things that they do," Lemon told the three congregants, who had been unwavering in their support of the bishop during the interview.
"Four people have come up with the exact same stories," Lemon told them. "That's what pedophiles do. The language, 'this isn't going to make you gay if you do this.' "
"When I look at different pedophiles, as you said, I don't see bishop as one," Gabrielle A. Richardson replied. "If you look at the various things he's done for the community and young people in general, no."
Gary A. Foster said, "I support the minister because the minister has supported me. He's my leader and it is our duty to stand behind our prophet, and that's what I will continue to do until he gives me reason not to."
"I'm not saying the bishop is a pedophile, but no one is perfect," Lemon replied, adding that many in the congregation have not even "put into their mind" that "something there might be inappropriate." He concluded with a request that "you should stand behind your bishop but you should all keep an open mind" and concluded, "as I've been saying all week, there are no winners in this situation."
The newscast took place a day before Long, standing before thousands of supportive congregants vowed to "vigorously" defend himself against the accusations of four young men who claim he coerced them into sex, as Gracie Bonds Staples, Shelia M. Poole and Craig Schneider reported for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"Long went on to say he has never portrayed himself as a perfect man. 'But I am not the man being portrayed on the television. . . . That's not me. That's not me.' "
Later Sunday, Lemon, 44, told Journal-isms in a message, "I've carried this secret since I was 6 yrs old. Didn't tell my mom til I was 30. Too embarrassed. Too ashamed. Too guilty. Personally, I know I've internalized it. Years of therapy, etc. Professionally, I think it's helped me.
"It's made me more curious about who people really are. I learned very early on that people aren't always what they present in public. So while being acutely attuned to that has helped me professionally, it's too bad I had to learn it at such a young age. Just like any other profession, journalists come with a myriad of personal experiences. We shouldn't be afraid to act like human beings."
Lemon's revelations were met with supportive and congratulatory messages to Lemon's Facebook page.
"It was a brave move, absolutely. You are an inspiration to many..." one said.
"Use your place as our 'go-to' reporter to BREAK THE SILENCE, STOP THE VIOLENCE!" said another.
"Don, you are very brave," said a third. "Thank you for revealing your truth, particularly in the presence of those young adults who needed to know that questioning is more than okay. As 1 Thess 5:21 says, 'Test all things. Hold fast what is good.' May they realize that their first loyalty is to the Word, and not a man."
Lemon replied, "Thank you all for your kind words. I had no idea I'd say that on national tv. It just came out. Sadly, it's the truth for so many young men."
Asked what he thought of one woman's questioning whether such a revelation was journalistically appropriate, Lemon told Journal-isms, "I have no other response to that except what I wrote to you. It was unplanned and I am human. There was no agenda behind it."
- Christian Boone, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Aggressive tone in dealing with scandalous allegations
- Mary C. Curtis, Politics Daily: Race, Sex and Religion in the Case of Bishop Eddie Long [Sept. 28]
- Joel Dreyfuss, theRoot.com: Preaching Against Homosexuality Can Be the Ultimate Denial
- Sam Fulwood III, Center for American Progress: Race and Beyond: Challenging the Social and Government Institutions We Need [Sept. 28]
- Shayne Lee, cnn.com: Black church culture makes it hard to embrace homosexuality
- Roland S. Martin, Creators Syndicate: Bishop Eddie L. Long Must Step Down
- Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: Sex scandals expose bias, character flaws
- Sophia A. Nelson, theGrio.com: Why Bishop Long's wife shouldn't 'stand by her man'
- Goldie Taylor, Facebook: A (not so) Super Hero: The Rise and Fall of Eddie Long
- Wil LaVeist, urbanfaith.com: A Bishop's Scandal
- Craig Washington, theRoot.com: A Sermon for Bishop Eddie Long
- Edward Wyckoff Williams, the Grio.com: Bishop Long scandal a teachable moment for black church
- Kai Wright, ColorLines: Bishop Eddie Long and the Lessons of Self-Hate
- WSB-TV: Slide show: A look inside the Sunday morning service at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church
AOL and its Patch subsidiary, a network of hyperlocal websites, last week announced the launch of PatchU, "a new network of partnerships between local Patch publications and journalism schools, colleges and universities to help prepare the next generation of journalists for future endeavors in the ever-evolving new media landscape," Robin Wauters reported for the TechCrunch website.
None of the schools is a historically black college or university.
But in response to a question from Journal-isms, an AOL spokesman said, "PatchU will continue to expand and work with additional schools across the country, including black colleges and universities."
It was a striking difference in tone from a Patch statement to Journal-isms last month: "We do not focus on race or ethnicity in the hiring process, but rather finding the best person for each job opening."
"Patch is looking for the best journalism talent in hundreds of locations throughout the country," Monday's statement said. "We also highly value a diverse workforce that will represent the broad spectrum of people living in Patch communities, and have many recruiting programs focused on building a strong pipeline of candidates of color.
"This year Patch had a career booth at every minority journalism conference, and has made hires through each of them:
- "National Association of Black Journalists
- "National Association of Hispanic Journalists
- "Asian American Journalists Association
- "Native [American] Journalists Association
"We‚Äôre also working with the Chips Quinn Scholars Program for Diversity in Journalism, and we post our open positions on all minority-focused recruitment sites such as the California Chicano News Media Association and Journalism Next. We are planning several diversity-focused recruiting initiatives in the next several months, including campus recruitment from historically black colleges and other schools with journalism programs that attract aspiring journalists of color."
Patch's schools program, "which debuted this fall, offers internship and coursework opportunities at local Patch publications to students under the guidance of Patch‚Äôs editors," the TechCrunch story said.
"Thirteen schools across the U.S. are already participating in the program as members of the PatchU network, which allows their students to learn more about Patch‚Äôs products, teams, and systems and the company‚Äôs hyperlocal business model.
"Patch recently debuted the PatchU program at Hofstra University on Long Island, NY, where enrollment has begun for a fall/winter internship offered jointly by the AOL company and Hofstra‚Äôs School of Communication. Through the arrangement, students will gain course credit and practical journalism experience at Patch‚Äôs Mineola, NY publication, where they will be supervised and mentored by the Patch local editor for that community."
Patch also has a banner ad on the website of the National Association of Black Journalists.
"I've been freelancing and consulting to make ends meet. I was lucky enough to teach a journalism class at Kent State, which I really loved doing. Most recently, I took a job in retail ‚Äî which was fun, but not exactly journalism," she told Journal-isms. She sold makeup at Nordstrom's department store.
"The hiring is going pretty fast. New folks come aboard every week," said Joe Grimm, veteran recruiter.
Patton said she is "happy to report that I just got hired as a regional editor with Patch.com. I'm excited to get back into journalism and to bring solid local news to Greater Cleveland."
Among the other journalists of color who have signed up with AOL Patch are Janita Poe, once with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as a local producer in Atlanta; Aldrin Brown, a former college sports editor at the Tennessean in Nashville and city editor for the San Bernardino (Calif.) Sun, as a regional editor for the Inland Empire in Southern California; Holly Edgell, a former assistant professor and executive producer at KOMU-TV at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, as one of two regional editors in St Louis; and Whitney Teal, a local Patch editor in the Maryland suburbs. She is a former editor at Uptown Literati, a blog about literature, and assistant editor at Sister 2 Sister magazine.
"I'm hiring 12 local editors who'll each run a hyper local site," Edgell told Journal-isms via e-mail. "I've hired 2 black women and 1 Latina, and I would love to bring in more journalists of color ‚Äî whether in St. Louis or elsewhere. We're hiring all over the place and all of us are helping by making referrals of great candidates."
"Comcast's COO Stephen Burke will become CEO of NBC Universal when the cable giant completes its acquisition of NBCU, Comcast announced Sunday," Jon Lafayette reported Sunday for Broadcasting & Cable.
"On Friday, NBCU's current CEO, Jeff Zucker, announced that Burke had told him Comcast wanted to pick its own leadership when it assumed control of NBCU. Zucker will stay in the position until the government review of the transaction is complete.
"Burke is a former ABC executive and the son of Capital Cities/ABC exec Dan Burke. He has been responsible for the integration of cable systems Comcast has acquired from AT&T and Adelphia.
Paula Madison, executive vice president for diversity at NBC Universal, told Journal-isms on Sunday, "I will continue in my present role leading diversity at NBCU."
But Sinead Carew reported for Reuters that "Comcast and GE said they would not make any more structural or personnel announcements until the close of the transaction, which is still being reviewed by regulators."
Brian L. Roberts, Comcast's chairman and chief executive officer, has spoken favorably of NBC News under Steve Capus' leadership. Capus won the Ida B. Wells Award from the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Conference of Editorial Writers three years ago for his diversity efforts.
"In the news business, I don‚Äôt think there is anyone quite in the position of NBC News, number one in news, CNBC number one in business news. MSNBC is now number two in news," Roberts said in a conference call on Dec. 7, 2009. "The Today Show has been number one for a long time."
It is clear from that conference call and from outside observers, however, that NBC's cable operations are far more valuable to Comcast than the broadcast network.
"USA Network is the most valuable part of NBC Universal at $11.7 billion, but the NBC network is worth a negative $600 million, according to Wunderlich Securities analyst Matthew Harrigan. He also puts the value of the Universal studio arm at about $4 billion," Georg Szalai reported Monday for the Hollywood Reporter.
"According to the analyst, the NBC Universal cable networks make up 78% of NBC Universal's valuation."
- Greg David, Crain's New York Business: Jeff Zucker and a journalistic quandary
The Wisconsin State Journal story began, "Dressed in a red Speedo bathing suit, loincloth, and Indian headdress down to his running shoes, Danny Delgado, 39, of Geneva, Ill., brought smiles to the faces of even some of the most bedraggled triathletes Sunday during the ninth annual Ironman Wisconsin."
But the Native American Journalists Association was not amused.
"I am writing in response to a story posted September 12, 2010 about the 'Triathletes met with encouragement in costume' by Samara Kalk Derby," Rhonda LeValdo, president of the Native American Journalists Association, wrote the Journal editor. "The picture shown with a gentleman dressed as a Native American, wearing a loincloth and headdress is an appalling and a blaring image of a stereotype of Native Americans that we are only here to amuse you. Native Americans are not a character for your paper‚Äôs entertainment.
"What is more upsetting is that Wisconsin recently was the first state to pass a law that banned Race-Based School Team names and logos. Many of Native Americans were glad that Wisconsin stepped it up a notch to recognize that stereotypes of Native Americans should not be tolerated.
"With this story, your paper has diminished Native peoples role as a person to a thing to be laughed at and unknowingly encouraging others that it is all right to do this. I would hope that young children were not exposed to these actions, because they learn that it is okay. If a child saw this man dressed as a Native American, then they think, it is acceptable to dress like a Native American and the cycle continues."
"With Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee all making moves indicating they may run for president, their common employer is facing a question that hasn‚Äôt been asked before: How does a news organization cover White House hopefuls when so many are on the payroll?" Jonathan Martin and Keach Hagey wrote Monday for Politico.
"The answer is a complicated one for Fox News.
"As Fox‚Äôs popularity grows among conservatives, the presence of four potentially serious Republican candidates as paid contributors is beginning to frustrate competitors of the network, figures within its own news division and rivals of what some GOP insiders have begun calling 'the Fox candidates.'
"With the exception of Mitt Romney, Fox now has deals with every major potential Republican presidential candidate not currently in elected office.
"The matter is of no small consequence, since it‚Äôs uncertain how other news organizations can cover the early stages of the presidential race when some of the main GOP contenders are contractually forbidden to appear on any TV network besides Fox.
"C-SPAN Political Editor Steve Scully said that when C-SPAN tried to have Palin on for an interview, he was told he had to first get Fox‚Äôs permission ‚Äî which the network, citing her contract, ultimately denied. Producers at NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC all report similar experiences."
- Joe Strupp, Media Matters for America: Minister Who Threatened Quran Burning Calls Fox News 'Sympathetic'
"Although you rarely hear racial insults on Main Street these days, there's a place where unashamed bigotry is all too easy to find: tossed off in the comments sections of some of the Internet's most popular websites, today's virtual Main Street," Jesse Washington wrote Sunday for the Associated Press.
"Internet anonymity has removed one of the strongest barriers to the type of language that can ruin reputations and end careers. Racist messages are a small percentage of the wild and woolly web, but they stick out since they are rare in person ‚Äî and they raise a host of questions.
" 'We've seen comments that people would not make in the public square or any type of civic discussion, maybe even within their own families,' said Dennis Ryerson, editor of The Indianapolis Star. 'There is no question in my mind that the process, because it's largely anonymous, enables people who would never speak up on Main Street to communicate their thoughts.' . . .
"Racist comments may scare average people away from productive conversations about race ‚Äî conversations that are moving rapidly into the digital domain from print publications, town halls, street corners and shopping malls.
" 'When there are forums about race, people flock there to do battle,' said Eric Deggans, a reporter and blogger for the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times. Whenever he blogs about race, 'about 20 percent of the comments will be straight-up racist. Another 20 percent are questionable.' . . .
"Some journalism observers believe real names should be required to post comments, some of which would never be chosen for publication in the traditional 'letters to the editor' section."
Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.
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