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By Scotty T. Reid – CNN anchor Don Lemon is denying claims that he inappropriately interacted with a bartender during a night out in the wealthy Hamptons in Long Island, New York. A CNN spokesperson for the cable news giant commenting on the lawsuit accused the alleged victim of being critical of the politically moderate programming of the network on social media and insinuated the plaintiff is making up a false version of the interaction because he doesn’t like CNN. The spokesperson also accused the plaintiff of an attempted 1.2 Million dollar extortion scheme but provided no evidence of a criminal complaint. Lemon has made lewd and sexually inappropriate comments on CNN during a past New Year’s Eve special that included comedian and sometimes political commentator, Kathy Griffin.
Plaintiff Dustin Hice says in his Suffolk County Supreme Court civil lawsuit that he went out one night for fun in July of 2018 with his coworkers from The Old Stove Pub where he worked as a bartender. The group reportedly headed to Murf’s Backstreet Tavern which is in Sag Harbor, NY for a night out that included drinking.
Hice told The New York Post, “I see out of the corner of my eye, it’s Don Lemon’’ there, too. Hice offered to buy Lemon a friendly drink.
“I had had two beers, maybe three at the most,’’ Hice recalled. “I said, ‘Hey, Don, let me buy you a drink.’ I turned to Nick the bartender and said, ‘Hey, Nick, let me get two [vodka] Lemon Drops’ and put two fingers in the air.
“Don was sitting with two or three other people, and he looks at me and goes, ‘I’m just trying to have a good time, man.’ I said, ‘Oh, OK, sorry,’ and that was it,’’ Hice said.
Hice told The New York Post, “About 5 or 10 minutes later, Don gets up, walks around the bar, comes up right up to me and puts his hands down his board shorts. He rubs himself aggressively, his penis and whatever else down there.”
Hice then alleges that in what sounds like a crowded bar full of potential witnesses and possible security footage while none have been mentioned as of yet, he says Lemon then “shoved his index and middle fingers in the Plaintiff’s mustache and under Plaintiff’s nose,’’ according to the lawsuit.
“And he goes, ‘Do you like p—y or d–k?’ And he kept saying, ‘P or D? P or D?’ He said it three or four times. I’m like, ‘Whoa man, what the hell?’ ” Hice claimed.
Hice says he was traumatized and embarrassed by the interaction with the famous Lemon, he fled the bar and came back a couple of minutes later to find Lemon gone.
CNN is standing by Lemon who “categorically denies” the allegations and threw out some serious accusations of their own at Hice through a spokesperson against Hice who they downplayed as simply a CNN hater.
“The plaintiff in this lawsuit has previously displayed a pattern of contempt for CNN on his social media accounts. This claim follows his unsuccessful threats and demands for an exorbitant amount of money from Don Lemon. Don categorically denies these claims and this matter does not merit any further comment at this time.”
There is no record of Lemon or CNN providing proof of having pursued a criminal complaint concerning extortion charges against Hice with the FBI or any other law enforcement agency. CNN could be referring to meetings alleged to have taken place to handle the matter through civil means instead of addressing the alleged conduct in a criminal court. A source from Hice’s camp reportedly told the New York Post that talks occurred between the two parties about a financial settlement and that Lemon’s side offered “six figures,” but the settlement fell apart in the end. CNN has not commented on the source’s claim.
Is it plausible that Don Lemon acted in an inappropriate way with the plaintiff because of a perceived slight? If a jury and/or judge were to consider evidence in this case, they would have to consider that while allegedly under the influence of alcohol during a live CNN New Year’s special, Lemon made highly sexually inappropriate comments for a professional cable news anchor on live cable television.
In the live broadcast that was recorded and saved to the Internet, Lemon makes light of a supposed workplace sexual harassment he describes and flat out says that special guest Kathy Griffen sexually assaulted him. Lemon is a known gay man who is married. Lemon then seemingly under the influence of alcohol, minimizes the sexual workplace misconduct he described by making a sexually inappropriate workplace comment about Kathy Griffen’s breast.
The Lemon Lawsuit comes right on the heels of CNN anchor Chris Cuomo being recorded interacting with a man who called him “Fredo” who is a character in the Italian mob film series The Godfather. Cumo naturally agitated and aware that he is being filmed loses his cool and threatens physical violence against his antagonist. Cuomo also drew slight criticism for comparing the name of a fictional character, “Fredo” in an Italian crime film to the “N-word” which was deemed a bridge too far to cross. The n-word is a racial slur culturally assigned to Afro-Americans and other Black people who suffered horrific acts of violence and “legal” subjugation for centuries by people classified as white during and since the colonial period in North America.
The classification of “white” was assigned to people of European heritage including those from Italy like Cumo/ Waves of European immigrants were recruited to migrate to the United States in waves to take advantage of the white classification in all aspects of US society. In fact, these were recruited to displace African-American labor and depress their wages after the American Civil War.