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When life gives you Lemon, sack him

Comment Last year, two high-profile American news anchors lost their jobs. This year, CNN’s Don Lemon joined Fox News’s Tucker Carlson with a new show on Elon Musk’s X.

Only one of those presenters still has the slot, however, and somehow it’s the credulous, slack-jawed goon who cheerfully signal-boosted Russian propaganda that won out.

The disintegration of Lemon’s (unsigned) contract to host the show on X was last week, but the former CNN newsman has now the fruits of his labor – and the reason why the deal was canned.

To be fair, a serious journalist should probably have known better than to sit down with Musk and expect the agreement to remain intact, yet the interview shows that while you can take a man out of CNN, it is considerably harder to take CNN out of a man.

On that note, Lemon’s “wishlist” to have the show run on X was to include a “free Tesla Cybertruck, a $5 million upfront payment on top of an $8 million salary, an equity stake in the multibillion-dollar company, and the right to approve any changes in X policy as it relates to news content” – so maybe it was a joke after all. Lemon strenuously denies these claims, we should add.

All this blatant shit-flinging between Lemon and X forms the backdrop for a toe-curlingly uncomfortable watch, with Musk’s face reddening like a child being rebuked by their principal as Lemon constantly pushed back against the narratives he weaves online.

Because while Carlson will even the most outlandish statements from Musk’s mouth like a malnourished kitten, Lemon, as most actual journalists would, took the opportunity to hold the overpowered tycoon to account, questioning his behavior and past statements.

You know, the good stuff that Tesla stockholders just love to hear about.

After some back and forth about whether Twitter (as was) was lefty or righty, Lemon’s own perceived stance, Musk’s relationship with Donald Trump, and some Tesla Roadster guff, the conversation took an awkward turn when Lemon drilled into Musk’s ketamine prescription to treat an occasional “negative chemical state.”

While it has a reputation as a “horse tranquilizer” in illicit transactions, ketamine is also known to have a fast-acting though transient effect on depression. The problem was Lemon implying that Musk was dissociating with heroic doses while posting his infamous hot takes on X.

He also prodded about whether such issues might get in the way of SpaceX’s government contracts and his companies’ standing on Wall Street. To which Musk said: “From the standpoint of Wall Street, what matters is execution … For investors, if there’s something I’m taking, I should keep taking it.”

It was downhill from there. Lemon barreled through all the recent Musk issues of concern without flinching, from his supposed endorsement of the , to X’s increasingly hands-off approach to content moderation, diversity, trans rights, the “woke mind virus,” and ending on a particular sore point for Musk – .

With regard to the first thorn, Musk said: “Don, the only reason I’m doing this interview is because you’re on the X platform, and you asked for it. Otherwise I would not do this interview.”

On moderation, he suggested that Lemon “loves” censorship. “Moderation is a propaganda word for censorship … If something’s illegal, we’re going to take it down. If it’s not illegal then we’re putting the thumb on the scale and we’re being censors.”

The best bit, though, was when Lemon took Musk to task for saying advertisers would kill the company. “But doesn’t the buck stop with you?”

“Don … choose your next question carefully, there’s five minutes left.”

Lemon pressed again. “I acquired X to protect freedom of speech in America, the First Amendment,” the South African said, “and I’m going to stick to that. And if that means making less money, so be it.”

Visibly agitated, Musk steered the rest of his answers toward his favorite talking points – population collapse, the future of civilization, blah blah blah – insisting that he is more interested in the reality of goodness than the perception of it.

Then he rushed off to a “room full of people” waiting for him. Lemon’s agent later received a text: “Contract is canceled.”

All of which is more proof that the free speech absolutist’s commitment to free speech extends only as far as not being mean to him. ®