Is Don Lemon a Journalist or a Pundit? 

Lemon's new primetime gig at CNN has some questioning whether his commentary on hot-button issues has him creeping too close to the punditry line.

Don Lemon
Don Lemon Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

CNN Pumps Up Don Lemon

Some Debate Whether Commentaries Are Appropriate

CNN weekend anchor Don Lemon is getting a temporary prime-time slot on CNN as some journalists debate whether the network’s most visible journalist of color is acting appropriately by simultaneously ramping up his role as a commentator.

It’s going to be amazing. You’re going to want to watch it,” Lemon said Tuesday night, according to Jordan Chariton, reporting for TVNewser. Lemon added, “to have any time slot on CNN is a pretty big accomplishment.” Lemon was part of a “CNN Heroes” event, recorded for a special to air Dec. 1.

Lemon is to fill in at 11 p.m. while Erin Burnett is on maternity leave, Katherine Fung reported Tuesday for the Huffington Post, and will step in for Burnett on “OutFront” some days at 7 p.m. The 11 p.m. show, called “The 11th Hour,” will replace 11 p.m. re-runs of “OutFront” and will be produced by Piers Morgan’s executive producer Jonathan Wald.

CNN has said that the show is not permanent, and will run until Burnett returns from maternity leave. Lemon will guest host Burnett’s show at 7 p.m. for three weeks, while Jake Tapper will guest host in the slot from Dec. 2 to Dec. 20.

As anchor of CNN Newsroom, Don Lemon is one of pitifully few high-profile African-Americans in corporate media,” Josmar Trujillo wrote Tuesday for Fairness & Accuracy In Media, going on to discuss one of Lemon’s controversial commentaries. That piece was on black personal responsibility. Another was an Election Day radio commentary on New York’s “stop-and-frisk” law.

Tracie Powell wrote Wednesday in Columbia Journalism Review, “Whether or not Lemon’s commentaries on the show express his actual opinions, audiences interpreted his Election Day piece as an endorsement of stop-and-frisk — a perception he disputed in an interview days later with Richard Prince. Lemon told Prince that his comments were being misinterpreted. ‘I am not supporting stop-and-frisk,’ Lemon told him.

“But beyond stop-and-frisk, many are taking issue with the fact that Lemon is acting as a commentator at all.