Why, Don, why? In reaction to the controversy sparked by President Barack Obama saying the N-word during an appearance on Marc Maron's "WTF" podcast, anchor Don Lemon held up a sign with the same word during Monday night's broadcast of "CNN Tonight."
"Does this offend you, this word?" Lemon said with the sign in hand. "President Obama said it out loud in an interview, and a lot of people are shocked."
Lemon was trying to start a debate by comparing the racial epithet to the Confederate flag, whose continued use in parts of the country is considered offensive by many, especially in light of last week’s killing at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina.
"This is what America is talking about right now," Lemon said, raising up the flag at the beginning of the segment. "Does this offend you? It's a Confederate flag. Is it a symbol of Southern pride or a symbol of hate?"
Unfortunately for Lemon, the stunt did not go over well, and many took to Twitter to object.
Marc Maron provides the thoughtful interview, Don Lemon provides the absurdist comedy. This is the world we live in.
— Frank Conniff (@FrankConniff) June 23, 2015
It’s clear that CNN has become more interested in the controversy Don Lemon garners than in his integrity as a news man.
— Amanda Seales (@amandaseales) June 23, 2015
CNN's Don Lemon is an embarrassment to the three communities he represents... African-Americans, gay men, and stupid people.
— Brian Scully (@BrianRScully) June 23, 2015
Don Lemon looked liked he was doing a Saturday Night Live skit with that #DoesThisOffendYou segment__
— #TransBeyonce (@BigMoneyC_) June 23, 2015
Of course, because it's the Internet, the photoshopped parody tweets were not long in coming:
Yes Don Lemon, I am truly disgusted and outraged by this sickening image. pic.twitter.com/KHPiXQaVp0
— Rob Fee (@robfee) June 23, 2015
C’mon, Don Lemon, you have to at least give a spoiler alert. pic.twitter.com/mzmkC41nPW
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) June 23, 2015
— Dinobooper, LLC (@SeaFisheater) June 23, 2015
Best Don Lemon meme pic.twitter.com/ahw8SvW21S
— poeticsocialjustice (@wonder_womanist) June 23, 2015
Lemon is often the source of controversy and Twitter-fueled derision. Last year, he publicly wondered if the missing Malaysia Air plane had flown into a black hole. In a highly criticized segment that aired in September, the "CNN Tonight" host attracted fierce blowback after posing the question "Is Islam more violent than any other faith?" to a panel that included Reza Aslan and Alisyn Camerota.
Here's a video of Monday's opening: