Comparatively speaking, Don Lemon should have more concern over the future of his career after asking this question. Twitchy featured this leftover from Friday evening, when the CNN host asked Gladys Knight about her decision to sing the national anthem at yesterday’s Super Bowl … which turned out to be the musical highlight of the game, if not the top overall moment. Lemon played a clip from Colin Kaepernick’s attorney Mark Geragos, who accused Knight and everyone else of “crossing an intellectual picket line” to perform at the event, accusing participants of “caring more about my career” than about doing the right thing.
After that loaded set-up, Lemon asks Knight whether she’s willing to risk her career over this appearance:
LEMON: Do you — I don’t know if you remember the controversy during the inauguration when Chrisette Michele saying at the inauguration and just read an article in The New York Times how she basically lost her career for doing so. You have a much longer history and resume, right? A legend in this business. Is that a concern for you at all given the controversy surrounding this?
KNIGHT: You know what, nothing good comes easy. And I would hope that they will understand as I do that we have a better way to do this than to be angry and why is he doing this or why is she doing that, you know? For me, it’s just for me about respect. I mean, if we just start denying the anthem, there are so many people that have died for our country and there are so many people in my family that are still part of, you know, just standing for the country, they are in the services and that kind of thing, and just to not say that if you really listen to the lyrics of the beginning, you’ll understand that. We have fought hard for a long time and not just in wars.
I’m curious — would Lemon have asked this of Adam Levine and Maroon 5, or Big Boi and Travis Scott? Or SpongeBob SquarePants? They’re not exactly legends (maybe SpongeBob is!), and they didn’t exactly wow the critics last night either. It probably wasn’t the “worst in event’s history,” but it was hardly all that impressive. After all, if there was an “intellectual picket line” for participation, then it extends to the entire event, right? Did the players lining both sidelines from the national anthem until Tom Brady took the final kneel-down cross that picket line, too? Said players, of course, who belong to a union that could set up an actual picket line any time they want, and have notably refrained from it ever since Kaepernick’s protests began.
Using Geragos’ self-serving construct as a way to cast aspersions on the motives of Gladys Frickin’ Knight was a low blow. She reminds Lemon that she was demonstrating for civil rights and marching with Dr. King while she was with the Pips, and even before Lemon was a pipsqueak. Knight isn’t going to “lose her career,” because she’s already earned it for more than fifty years. Performing her nation’s anthem at the premier single event in all of sports won’t even put a scratch in it, let alone a dent.
Lemon then quasi-accuses her of revitalizing the national anthem all by herself:
KNIGHT: You know, I mean, I have protested myself.
LEMON: I’m going to talk about that.
KNIGHT: About certain things.
LEMON: I wonder why this is why you want to give the anthem back its voice. Do you feel protesting during the anthem —
LEMON: — that somehow it is taking away from it?
No one has taken the voice away from the anthem in the first place, so Knight didn’t restore it yesterday. Colin Kaepernick’s protest has largely petered out in the NFL, and it never did have much participation even at its zenith, except when Donald Trump made it an issue, natch. The national anthem continues to get sung at all NFL games by a diverse group of performers, including the classy Knight. No one’s kneeling any more, or at least no one’s paying attention to it. And that’s the burr that has gotten under Lemon’s saddle.
Gladys Knight is a legend. The odds that Lemon will achieve that status don’t look good.