The untold truth of Don Lemon

As people continue to stay home due to the spread of the coronavirus, it’s become a clear challenge to avoid the rapidly evolving news cycle. As the nation enters an unprecedented time with more states releasing stay-at-home orders and suspending day-to-day in-person activities, viewership on news channels is skyrocketing. 

According to Newsweek, “the coronavirus pandemic has caused massive gains in the ratings of TV cable news channels,” like CNN. The New York City-based channel saw a 119% increase in primetime viewers from all ages. Among the network’s most popular shows is CNN Tonight with left-leaning anchor Don Lemon, whose charm, commentary prowess, and occasionally controversial coverage has propelled his show to be the second most-watched on the channel.

Recently the news anchor came under fire from right-wing former Fox news anchor Megyn Kelly. Kelly criticized Lemon on Twitter in April 2020, claiming he wasn’t being objective during one of his segments on how President Donald Trump is handling the coronavirus.

Despite — or perhaps as a result of — his sometimes-controversial coverage, Lemon seems to resonate with many. At 54 years old, the anchor has worked his way up the ladder to become a recognizable face of today’s media. So, what’s behind this face of success? We dug into his past to bring you the more personal side of Lemon than what you see on TV every night.

Don Lemon finds his happily-ever-after

Don Lemon was born in Baton Rouge, La. — far from the city he now calls home. According to Gossip Gist, his now-successful career had humble beginnings, considering he started as a weekend anchor for local stations in Alabama and Pennsylvania. He worked his way up to becoming a correspondent for NBC News, after which he joined CNN in 2006.

He’s arguably most famous for his declaration in January 2018, where he began his nightly segment with, “This is CNN Tonight, I’m Don Lemon. The President of the United States is racist.”

Besides the side of Lemon we see on television, he also has a personal life full of ups and downs, just like anyone else. He announced on Instagram in April 2019 that he’s going to tie the knot with his long-time partner and real estate agent, Tim Malone, who also took to social media to announce their engagement.

In the photos, Lemon is holding a dog tag with the words, “Daddy will you marry Papa?” The anchor wrote in the caption, “He gave me a present on his birthday. How could I say no?”

Overcoming a tough past, plus assault allegations

Despite the fairytale ending ahead, Don Lemon has pushed through some tough times in the past. According to an admission on national television, which Huffington Post later reported on, Lemon was sexually abused as a child. He publicly shared his story during a CNN segment discussing Georgia Bishop Eddie Long, who was accused of sexually abusing teenage boys.

“I have never admitted this on television,” Lemon began. “I am a victim of a pedophile when I was a kid. Someone who was much older than me.” According to Lemon’s account, he never even told his mother about it until he was 30 years old.

“I had no idea I’d say that on national tv,” Lemon tweeted about his comments in September 2010. “It just came out. Sadly, it’s the truth for so many young men.”

Lemon also faced his own share of assault allegations, which he has categorically denied. According to USA Today, a bartender from New York claimed Lemon assaulted him in July 2018. Lemon’s spokesperson attributed the claims to a “pattern of contempt” for Lemon that the bartender allegedly harbored and displayed on social media.

According to the spokesperson’s statement, the bartender made “unsuccessful threats and demands for an exorbitant amount of money” from the news anchor.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit RAINN.org for additional resources.

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