CNN's Don Lemon avoids mentioning court testimony that he tipped Jussie Smollett off about police

Media top headlines December 7

In media news today, CNN and Chris Cuomo issue scathing statements against each other, the former anchor announces he’s leaving his SiriusXM radio show, and a New York Times op-ed gets mocked for fearing free library is contributing to gentrification.

CNN host Don Lemon avoided mentioning his ties to actor Jussie Smollett Monday as he covered the ongoing trial revolving around the latter’s alleged staging of a hate crime against himself. 

During a segment on his nightly program, first flagged by NewsBusters, Lemon discussed the trial with CNN reporter Omar Jimenez, but neither mentioned Smollett’s invoking Lemon in his Monday testimony from the witness stand. 

Smollett testified in his own defense that he had correspondence with Lemon during the early parts of the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) investigation into his claim that he was attacked by two White men on the street wearing Make America Great Again hats.

He specifically testified that he received a text from Lemon, supposedly relaying information that the CPD didn’t believe Smollett’s account of what happened.

Don Lemon and Jussie Smollett
(Getty Images)

“Jussie Smollett, the actor who is accused of lying to police about an alleged hate crime in 2019, testifying in his own defense today. At the time Smollett told police that two men had attacked him in the street yelling racist, anti-gay remarks, put a noose around his neck and poured bleach on him,” Lemon said without mentioning his name being brought up in testimony. 

“Smollett has repeatedly denied staging the racist and homophobic attack against himself; he is charged with six counts of disorderly conduct on suspicion of making false reports to police,” he added, before turning to Jimenez, who reported on prosecutors’ cross-examination of Smollett, but also didn’t bring up Lemon’s name being mentioned.

Smollett’s testimony involving Lemon comes just days after CNN host Chris Cuomo was fired from the network following revelations that he used his position in media to assist his brother, then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in responding to sexual assault allegations against him.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – FEBRUARY 24: Actor Jussie Smollett leaves Leighton Criminal Courthouse on February 24, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. Smollett pleaded not guilty to charges of disorderly conduct in a new criminal case connected to allegations he staged a hate crime on himself.  (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

Smollett has been charged with six counts of felony disorderly conduct for making what prosecutors say was a false police report about the attack to three different police officers.

The Class-4 felony carries a prison sentence of up to three years, but experts have predicted Smollett would likely be placed on probation and ordered to perform community service if convicted. 

Lemon spoke in 2019 about texting with Smollett in the aftermath of the incident, expressing concern for his well-being, as skepticism began to creep in about his story.

“When something happens and it’s controversial, everyone is coming for you. And so I knew everyone would be picking apart his story. It’s not for me. That’s not my concern. My concern is for him,” Lemo said at the time.

Fox News’ Julius Young contributed to this report.

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