Viewers have expressed their shock after CNN host Don Lemon held up a sign bearing the n-word live on TV last night and asked: ‘Does this offend you?’
The anchor posed the question on Monday night following uproar that President Obama had used the word as he spoke about the prevalence of racism in the U.S.
The president was speaking on the Marc Maron WTF podcast just days after nine black people were shot dead inside a South Carolina church in a race-hate crime last week.
‘Racism, we are not cured of it,’ Obama said on the show on Monday. ‘And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say n***** in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not.’
The White House later refused to recant his use of the word.
‘The President’s use of the word and the reason he used the word could not be more apparent from the context of his discussion on the podcast,’ press secretary Josh Earnest said.
Following the controversy, Lemon argued during a debate with analyst Sunny Hostin that people – particularly reporters – should be able to use the word in some situations.
‘I don’t think we should bastardize the word, but if you’re using it in the context of a story, and it is relevant, you should be able to say it,’ he said. ‘It is our job to convey the truth and to tell people reality.’
On Monday night, he asked whether viewers were offended as he held up the sign.
He asked the same question as he held up a Confederate flag in response to calls to take down the one flying over the South Carolina capitol’s grounds in the aftermath of the shooting.
‘Is it a symbol of Southern pride or is it a symbol of hate?’ he asked.
After he held up the n-word sign, people expressed their shock on Twitter.
‘What a shame, Don Lemon,’ one user, Deborah NYC, wrote. ‘Why would you minimize an issue of such dire importance with a “stunt”.’
Another user, Gideon Klein, quipped: ‘When life gives you Don Lemon’s, turn the channel.’
His move even sparked a meme showing Lemon holding up various signs.
Some of the memes shared included a ‘Does this offend you?’ on the CNN banner as he held up a photograph of Donald Trump. In another, he held up a photo of his own face.
In one further image he held up a sign reading: ‘Please fire me.’
Lemon, himself African American, has long defended the use of the n-word.
In 2012, he again argued that the slur should be allowed in the context of a story and accused other reporters of effectively lessening the word’s impact if they fail to say it.
‘I think it takes the value out of what that word ready means, especially when we are reporting it,’ he said. ‘And I don’t care what color the reporter is, I think someone should say, “That person calls someone n****,” instead of saying the n-word, because I think it sanitizes it.’
Source: The DailyMail