Don Lemon ridiculed for holding sign reading 'n****r' and asking: 'Does this offend you?' during CNN broadcast

The anchor addressed the debate over President Obama's use of the n-word by sparking more controversy

Heather Saul
Tuesday 23 June 2015 09:46 BST
CNN anchor Don Lemon
CNN anchor Don Lemon (Getty)

Don Lemon's attempt at addressing the debate surrounding Barack Obama’s use of the word ‘n*****’ by holding up a sign with the slur emblazoned in capital letters across it has been met by outrage on social media.

President Obama used the n-word to challenge claims racism has been defeated in America during a Marc Maron WTF podcast interview five days after the massacre of nine black congregation members at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.

"Racism, we are not cured of it,” Mr Obama said on Monday. “And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say n****r in public. That's not the measure of whether racism still exists or not.”

Lemon responded to the ensuing controversy surrounding the use of the word by arguing people should be able to say it if it is used in context when reporting on a news story.

“I don’t think we should bastardise 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,” Lemon said during a debate with CNN analyst Sunny Hostin.

“It is our job to convey the truth and to tell people reality.”

He later held up a picture of the Confederate flag and asked the audience, “does this offend you?” before holding a sign bearing the n-word and posing the same question for CNN Tonight.

Lemon held up a sign bearing the racial epithet on CNN
Lemon held up a sign bearing the racial epithet on CNN (CNN)

Within hours, Lemon was sharply criticised and predictably parodied in a series of ‘does this offend you’ memes on Twitter.

The controversy comes as the White House said President Obama did not regret using the n-word to illustrate his argument about the existence of racism in the US.

The White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters after the interview: "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."

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