CNN’s Don Lemon immediately walked back an apparent sexual slur that he used on Wednesday night while appearing on a segment on CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time.”
The segment originally started out with Cuomo talking about PETA’s list of “anti-animal language” and then transitioned into talking about “more serious things.”
At the end of the segment, Lemon told Cuomo: “Don’t be a chickenhead.”
The term “chickenhead” is a slang derogatory term that is used to describe someone who likes performing oral sex on a man and is considered to be especially degrading toward women.
Lemon immediately walked his statement back, saying: “I don’t know what that means, I just said it. I have no idea.”
This is not the first time that Lemon has made seemingly inappropriate comments about oral sex on CNN.
In 2014, Lemon interviewed Joan Tarshis, one of the women who accused Bill Cosby of rape. Time reported:
The allegations are hardly new, and the interview could have been an occasion for a serious and nuanced conversation about rape, about how survivors respond to and survive assault and about well-documented techniques used by serial abusers. Instead, what proceeded was appalling. Lemon, in a few brief lines, blamed the victim for not stopping her assault, while also managing to subtly convey a whole series of rape myths.
Lemon’s most repugnant suggestion was this: “You know, there are ways not to perform oral sex.” He went on to clarify that he meant the “using of the teeth” as a “weapon” to stop the alleged assault. Put crassly, “Why didn’t you bite his dick if you didn’t want to perform oral sex?” Lemon continued, “If you didn’t want to do it…” In other words, “you really wanted it.”
“Lemon’s belief that a woman being raped should simply bite her rapist’s penis isn’t just ridiculous, dangerous victim blaming, but is based on what is possibly the oldest and most enduring rape myth: that “real” rape must be “forced” and corroborated by evidence of struggle,” Time added.
Lemon is not the only CNN personality to make sexually inappropriate remarks on the network.
In 2011, CNN’s Anderson Cooper made a “teabagging” remark during a segment with David Gergen, the director of the Center for Public Leadership.
“They still haven’t found their voice, Anderson,” Gergen said. “This happens to a minority party after it’s lost a couple of bad elections, but they’re searching for their voice.”
Cooper replied: “It’s hard to talk when you’re teabagging.”