Don Lemon is the latest person to hold Kevin Hart accountable for his homophobic comedic past. The news anchor devoted nearly 10 minutes on his CNN Tonight show Friday to address the debate that’s captured headlines for the past month following Ellen DeGeneres’ controversial interview with the embroiled comedian that aired earlier in the day.
“Walking away right now — that is your choice,” said Lemon to Hart. “But many of us really need to keep the conversation going. It’s life or death and someone like Kevin Hart, with one of the biggest megaphones in the world, can be a leader, the ultimate change agent. He can help change homophobia in the Black community.”
Lemon cited the investigative reporting of Vulture and his own CNN team clarifying that neither could locate one time Hart has apologized prior to the current conversation for homophobic tweets and jokes dating back to 2009 and as recent as 2012. Rather, the box office magnet has addressed the jokes and tweets when prompted. Lemon asserted that the only apology — a statement using the words “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” — came when Hart tweeted he was stepping down as host of the upcoming Oscars ceremony in February.
"Apologizing and moving on does not make the world a better place for people who are gay or people who are transgender, being an ally does," says CNN's @DonLemon, reacting to the Oscars' openness to Kevin Hart's return https://t.co/ITGU3Uj2ez pic.twitter.com/4u48sfBF0U
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) January 5, 2019
The anchor also fact-checked Hart’s continuous claims that the jokes in question are from “10 years ago” as he told DeGeneres. And though Hart very much would like to move on and not revisit the more unsavory parts of his past, “this is the time to hear other people out to understand why they might have been offended,” Lemon said.
“The truth is, that is a reality for many little boys in the United States,” he continued, referencing Hart’s 2012 tweet that he’d break a doll house over his son’s head if he caught him playing with it. “Somewhere a Black dad is beating his Black son, the same way it happened to my friend, Oscar-nominated director Lee Daniels, who through his TV show Empire portrayed how as a little boy his dad threw him in a trashcan for wearing heels… Those views of the LGBT people within the Black community have consequences.”
Lemon called on people within the African-American community “to stop lowkey cosigning homophobia” but noted that there is a place to talk about “how people who may have messed up become allies as well.”
“Because apologizing and moving on doesn’t make the world a better place for people who are gay or people who are transgender,” Lemon continued. “Being an ally does.”
Hart, in an interview with Variety prior to taping his DeGeneres interview said he was no longer interested in hosting the Oscars. After DeGeneres’ plea, he said he’d reevaluate his stance. As of Friday, reports said the film academy was still open to Hart hosting.