Don Lemon on the Challenges of Hosting CNN Tonight in the Trump Era
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Don Lemon on the Challenges of Hosting CNN Tonight in the Trump Era


-First of all, happy birthday! It’s your birthday.
-Thank you. Thank you. [ Cheers and applause ] -And…
-Oh, wow! 25 again. -25 again.
-Yeah. -And not only are you spending
your birthday with us, but then, of course,
you’re going to go and you’re going to do your show
live at 10:00 tonight… -Yeah. Yeah.
-…for two hours. Is that the perfect way
to spend a birthday, surrounded by a panel of people
talking about what happens in the news every day?
-As opposed to with Seth Meyers? Yes, it is.
[ Laughter ] Actually, I — I, well —
thank you. [ Laughter ]
I love what I do. -That’s great!
-It’s a great way to spend my birthday, and what we’re
covering now is so important. So I can’t imagine
any other thing, any other way, except with maybe with my
partner or with my family. -Well, I’m so —
I think you do a great job. -Thank you.
-And I also want to just speak to the level of difficulty anyone who has to manage
a panel has versus what I get to do
which is I have you here, you’re the person
I have to talk to. -Right. Right.
-It’s very easy. I don’t have to finish talking
to you and then say, “And now you hate Don Lemon.”
So… [ Laughter ]
-Or someone is yelling at you. -Yeah.
-Behind you or in a satellite box or in your ear. “Don’t say that,
or get to the break.” -And yeah, exactly.
-Yeah. -Because sometimes
they’re not even there. -Right.
-How much — I guess my question is how
much of it is that organizing in your head where
you’re going go next and how you keep it all in
the — juggling in the air? -I try to be fair and not let
people talk over each other or let other people talk
too much. But I want it to be organic,
a conversation. I try not to, you know,
ask canned questions. But it’s tough. Sometimes
I forget people’s names. -Uh-huh.
-And I have to look at my card, the blue card and go, “Wait
a minute, um — wait a minute. [ Laughter ]
That’s Chris and not Rob.” -Right.
-Sometimes I get it wrong. -Do you do a lot of like,
“Hey, buddy, what about you?” Yeah.
[ Laughter ] -Yes, so it is always, you know,
“And what do you think?” -Yeah, right.
-But sometimes it’s really easy because all you have to do
is say, you know, “Seth?” -Right.
-And then just let someone talk. -Well, that’s the other thing. I will say everyone
on those panels, they’re basically wind-up toys
who are ready to go if you — [ Laughter ]
If you turn it over to them, it’s not — I’ve never seen
anyone on a panel say, “You know what, Don? I got
nothing to say about this.” [ Laughter ] -And when we do, we mark it,
because every once in a while, we stump people and they say,
“You know what, I really don’t have an answer
to that.” -Now, one thing that we’ve
been talking about on this show is it’s this crazy thing
that happens now, which Donald Trump will suggest
something so far afield of conventional wisdom, and yet,
because he’s the president and because it’s the news, you
actually have to have a panel and talk about this stuff.
-Yeah. Like we should have a ratings
system for movies? -Yeah. For movies.
So he says that and then — [ Laughter ]
And then you have to go — and, like, say, like, “What do you have to say about
this totally nonsensical thing?” [ Laughter ] -You talked about it,
and I saw it. -Yeah.
-With Wolf Blitzer. Yeah, it’s crazy. And I try not to engage in that, and I will say, you know,
I do give a point of view on my show,
which is interesting, I think people find interesting
for CNN. I do give a point of view,
and I’ll say that’s ridiculous. -Yeah.
-I mean, we can be fair, we can be open minded,
but we don’t have to be stupid. [ Laughter, cheers,
and applause ] But, seriously.
-Yeah, I think that’s very fair. -One issue is arming teachers.
-Yeah. -And, you know, I come from
a long line of teachers, and none of them want to be
armed in school. -Yeah.
-Do we want security in school? Absolutely. But do — you know,
do you want your teacher, do you want Coach Edwards
to be armed? -Yeah.
-I don’t think so. -My mom was a teacher, and if she ever had a gun, so many things would have
had to go wrong. -You might not be here.
-Yeah. [ Laughter ]

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