“This is something that’s important to me,” offered Don Lemon Friday night. “It’s important to me, it’s important to the LGBT community, and it’s important to the black community, and I am a proud member of both, so I feel obligated to speak out on this issue.”
On CNN Tonight, the cable-news host addressed the controversy surrounding Kevin Hart who, when offered the opportunity by the Academy to either apologize for his many past homophobic remarks or not host the Oscars, chose the latter.
Hart paid a visit to The Ellen DeGeneres Show recently, and had an hour-long conversation with DeGeneres, herself a trailblazing gay comedian who almost lost her job when she publicly came out twenty years ago. But instead of expressing genuine contrition over his past comments, Hart chose to paint himself as a victim, claiming he was targeted by “an onslaught on social media” of his past, that he wasn’t even given “a full 24 hours to glow in the glory” of hosting the Oscars, that he’d “addressed” his homophobic remarks, which included several stand-up routines and hundreds of tweets and had already “apologized” for them in the past.
He hadn’t though. Kevin Hart only apologized after he stepped down from hosting the Oscars. There is no record of any apology prior to that point.
“Kevin Hart did put out a Twitter apology after he stepped down from hosting the Oscars… but what about the notion that there were apologies?” said Lemon on his show Friday night. “We couldn’t find [an apology]… and if you can find one, feel free to send it our way.”
Hart indeed addressed his past homophobic remarks during a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, saying, “I wouldn’t tell that joke today, because when I said it, the times weren’t as sensitive as they are now.”
Of course, this is not an apology.
After the homophobic tweets resurfaced on Dec. 6, Hart posted a short video to Instagram claiming that the Academy had issued an ultimatum. “So I just got a call from the Academy, and that call basically said, Kevin, apologize for your tweets of old, or we’re going to have to move on and find another host… the reason why I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times.”
Again, instead of issuing a simple apology, he chose to step down from his “dream job.”
As Lemon explained, “For many in the gay community, but especially in the black community, the Twitter apologies or explanations on Ellen have fallen flat. To many, they seem insincere, and that he has somehow turned himself into a victim instead of acknowledging the real victims of violent and sometimes deadly homophobia. Kevin, if anything, this is the time to hear people out.”
Lemon, his voice cracking with emotion, said that he hadn’t seen “any meaningful outreach to the LGBT community” from Hart, and that while DeGeneres says that she forgives Hart, and may have gotten him his Oscar-hosting gig back, she doesn’t speak for everyone.
“[Ellen] said that she forgives Kevin, and that she thinks he should host the Oscars. But honestly, Ellen does not speak for the whole community. We need to speak up for the young, black people—especially young black men, kids—in the LGBT community.”
He added, “These issues need to be addressed, especially when it comes to black youth in our country, because they need to know that they have value, and it’s OK to be who they are.”