UPDATE: Don Lemon revealed on Monday’s episode of CNN Tonight that he spoke with Kevin Hart after the comedian reached out to him. The anchor did not reveal the specifics of their conversation but said that Hart reiterated points from his apology on his SiriusXM radio show, Straight to the Hart.
As the discussion over the Kevin Hart Oscars controversy trudges on in light of the comedian’s appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show this week, CNN’s Don Lemon made a plea to Hart on his CNN Tonight program.
“It is your chance right now to do the right thing, to change minds and possibly save lives,” Lemon said during a segment on Friday night.
Hart bowed out of hosting the 2019 Oscars ceremony after old homophobic and transphobic tweets were unearthed on social media. During his discussion with DeGeneres on Friday, the actor claimed he “talked about this, this isn’t new. I’ve addressed it.” Lemon, also citing an investigation by Vulture, said Hart did address the matter, but CNN didn’t find any record of him actually apologizing to the LGBTQ community until after he chose to step down.
“Kevin, if anything, this is the time to hear other people out, to understand why they might have been offended and I don’t see any meaningful outreach to the LGBT community, not that I know of,” the anchor said.
Hart also told DeGeneres that he wants to just apologize and move on from this controversy. Lemon responded, “Walking away right now, that is your choice, but many of us really need to keep the conversation going. It’s life or death. And someone like a 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 pointed to Hart’s old stand-up routine in which he joked about knocking his son and another kid down when they were dancing on each other. Hart also tweeted about how he would break his daughter’s dollhouse over his son’s head if he ever caught him playing with it, among other homophobic jokes.
With his departing message as Oscars host, Hart said, “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.”
“That was a joke to Kevin, but the truth is that is a reality for many little boys in the United States,” Lemon said. “Somewhere a black dad is beating his black son the same way it happened to my friend, Oscar-nominated director Lee Daniels, through his TV show Empire, portrayed how as a little boy his dad threw him in a trash can for wearing heels. Took him out of the house and threw him in the trash can. That’s the reality for a lot of little boys.”
DeGeneres sparked criticism as well when, on her show, she forgave Hart for his past comments and said, “I really want you to host the Oscars.” She also said she called the Academy and pled Hart’s case.
“Honestly, Ellen doesn’t speak for the whole community,” Lemon remarked. “We need to speak up for the young black people, especially young black men — kids — in the LGBT community.”
“We have to stop low-key co-signing homophobia, it is not cool and we won’t tolerate jokes that tell those youth otherwise,” he continued later on in the segment. “We need to talk about how people who’ve messed up can become allies, as well, because 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.”
Hart told DeGeneres he was “evaluating” his decision to depart the Oscars as host, but a report suggests the Academy would welcome him back if there’s interest.
Hart released another statement on the matter over social media on Saturday, though that too was not an apology.
“Basketball players aren’t great until they LEARN how to play the game correctly,” a screenshot of a written statement on Instagram reads. “Teachers are great teachers when they LEARN how to get thru to kids correctly. Architects become great at their job when they LEARN how to build correctly. CEO’s are not great until they LEARN how to run a business correctly. A Fireman is not a great fireman until he LEARNS how to fight fires correctly. A doctor is not great at their job in the beginning… he/she have to LEARN how to be great. A news anchor or a journalist does not start at the top… they have to LEARN and develop to be great at their job.”
He added in the caption, “When did we get to the point where we forgot that we all learn, then we all have the ability to grow and with that growth comes a wealth of knowledge. You can’t change without an understanding of what GROWTH means. #Message #LiveLoveLaugh #HappySaturday …..Please grasp this and use it in 2019.”