Don Lemon is opening up about how the recent attack allegedly suffered by “Empire” star Jussie Smollett affected him personally.
The CNN host appears in a special new episode of Jada Pinkett Smith’s Facebook Watch series “Red Table Talk”.
In the interview, Lemon is asked about the alleged racist and homophobic attack on Smollett in Chicago by two masked men.
“My initial reaction was sadness,” Lemon says. “I wasn’t shocked. I didn’t like that it happened to him. I called him because we have mutual friends.”
Lemon also reveals that he called Smollett soon after hearing about the attack to check in on him.
“I talked to Jussie for a minute and he said, ‘I gotta go, the doctor’s here’ and it just made me sad,” he says. “Everyone talks about, ‘Well, this happened and that happened.’ My concern is for him.”
During the interview Lemon addresses his criticism of Kevin Hart, who last year stepped down as Oscars host after his old homophobic tweets emerged.
“Everyone was like, ‘Don Lemon is going after Kevin Hart.’ I wasn’t going after Kevin Hart,” Lemon explains. “I wanted Kevin to understand and to hear from people who look like me. It doesn’t mean Kevin has to go around carrying a rainbow flag marching in a parade. That’s not his prerogative, he doesn’t have to do that.”
He continues, “He’s apologized. We should accept it. We can’t bully him into doing or being someone he doesn’t want to be or whatever and I think we need to move on and let Kevin be Kevin right?”