CNN’s Don Lemon urges Joe Biden to address Kenosha protests for Jacob Blake

Don Lemon sitting on a windowsill with an arm resting on one knee
Don Lemon covered the second night of the Republican National Convention with fellow CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

CNN anchor Don Lemon has spoken up about the ongoing protests in Kenosha, Wis., demanding justice for Jacob Blake — and he wants Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to speak up too.

While covering Night 2 of the Republican National Convention with his colleague Chris Cuomo, the veteran broadcast journalist shared his thoughts on the outrage and demonstrations that erupted in Kenosha this week after Blake was shot multiple times by police in front of his young children.

“What’s happening in Kenosha is a Rorschach test for the entire country,” Lemon said. “I think this is a blind spot for Democrats. I think Democrats are ignoring this problem or hoping that it will go away. And it’s not going to go away. ...


“The problem is not going to be fixed by [the presidential election], but what they can do — and I think maybe Joe Biden may be afraid to do it — ... He’s got to come out and talk about it. He’s got to do a speech like Barack Obama did about race. He’s got to come out and tell people that he is going to deal with the issue of police reform in this country.”

The Louisiana native, who joined CNN in 2006 and is the only Black cable news anchor in prime time, is clearly energized by having a role in shaping the current national discourse on race relations.

June 10, 2020

Lemon’s subsequent remarks on the unrest in Kenosha — which has seen multiple arrests, several businesses set on fire and two fatal shootings — caused a stir on Twitter. Many demonstrations in the city have been largely peaceful.

“What’s happening now is happening ... on Donald Trump’s watch, and when [Biden] is the president, Kamala Harris is the vice president, then they will take care of this problem,” Lemon continued. “But guess what. The rioting has to stop. ... It’s showing up in the polling. It’s showing up in focus groups. It is the only thing — it is the only thing — right now that is sticking.”

Several criticized Lemon for focusing on polling numbers instead of violence in Kenosha, while others accused him of overlooking the root issue of police brutality and failing to hold the current president accountable for his handling of systemic racism.

“Why is it that Don Lemon is holding Biden’s feet to the fire when Trump is the man in charge?” tweeted Brave News Blog’s Bianca Delarosa.

“What’s more concerning is how the media always frames the shooting of an unarmed black person around the aftermath,” added writer Florence J. Tipton. “Riots and destruction of property are more important than state sanctioned murder. Shameful!”


Representatives for CNN and Lemon did not immediately respond Wednesday to the Los Angeles Times’ request for comment.

In a recent interview with The Times, Lemon opened up about the exhausting and rewarding experience of leading CNN’s coverage of the nationwide protests prompted by the police killing of George Floyd.

“All of the chaos makes me sad,” he said in June. “But seeing those young people out there [who] are doing things the right way. They got it right. And they’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore. And good for them. So I am optimistic.”