Worse Before It Gets Better: Lemon-O’Reilly Race Agreement To Rile Up Cable News War

dongoldiebillTalk about strange bedfellows.

CNN and Fox News are rivals.

So are CNN and MSNBC.

And no one needs reminding of the warm feelings MSNBC and Fox have for each other.

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But with Fox winning the ratings race, jockeying for second place is the hottest ticket on the cable news fight card, at least for now.

MSNBC jumped into this position after a relatively stellar 2012, primarily thanks to the Presidential Election and the performance of its own horse in that race. But 2013—a non-election year—it’s been a whole new ballgame, as CNN has greatly benefitted from focusing on news that is much less political and much more in the human-interest domain: Boston bombings, Cleveland kidnappings, Oklahoma tornado, George Zimmerman, and the future King George.

Still, it is odd to see CNN’s Don Lemon, a black, gay, increasingly opinionated anchor jump to the defense of Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, a white, heterosexual, always-opinionated host, and his commentary on race.

To review for those not familiar with the story, Lemon stated on his show Saturday that not only did he agree with O’Reilly’s candid perspective on race, but from his perspective, O’Reilly hadn’t gone far enough. In short, O’Reilly said that black communities were struggling because of a breakdown of the family unit. Lemon obviously heard these remarks and played them on his show, which, again…is like Pepsi (CNN) serving Coke (Fox) at a corporate picnic: “Raised without much structure, young black men often reject education and gravitate towards the street culture, drugs, hustling, gangs.”

Tagging out of the clip, Lemon said, “Bill’s got a point. In fact, he’s got more than a point … In my estimation, he doesn’t go far enough.”

Unfiltered and brave commentary, considering the source (a host from a competing network), and also considering the backlash Lemon absolutely knew a defense of the conservative O’Reilly would create. On Sunday, he shared just how deep the vitriol has already become.

Leading the charge against Lemon is MSNBC in the form of Goldie Taylor. But first (earlier in the week), Chris Hayes—who knows all about struggles of a different kind since moving to…



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