CNN is having a tough week. There’s apparently no video of the alleged incident involving Don Lemon so it’s he said, he said. According to bartender Dustin Hice, he recognized Lemon at a Sag Harbor bar called Murf’s (Dustin worked at another nearby bar) and offered to buy him a drink. Lemon was with some other people and politely declined the offer saying he was just there to “have a good time, man.” Hice moved on but claims that minutes later Lemon approached him and that’s when things got very weird. From the complaint (via Mediaite):
Sometime later that evening, unexpectedly, Mr. Lemon walked towards Plaintiff and his colleagues inside of Murf’s.
At such time, Mr. Lemon, who was wearing a pair of shorts, sandals, and a t-shirt, put his hand down the front of his own shorts, and vigorously rubbed his genitalia, removed his
hand and shoved his index and middle fingers into Plaintiff’s moustache under Plaintiff’s nose.
Mr. Lemon intensely pushed his fingers against Plaintiff’s face under Plaintiff’s nose, forcing Plaintiff’s head to thrust backward as Defendant repeatedly asked Plaintiff “Do you
like pussy or dick?”. While saying this, Mr. Lemon continued to shove his fingers into Plaintiff’s face with aggression and hostility.
So that’s pretty gross and very specific. Hice goes on to claim that word of what happened spread and people kept coming up to him and mocking him or questioning him at work. But CNN says Hice has a history of bashing CNN on social media and that he asked Lemon for $1.5 million in order to not file the lawsuit. Someone close to Hice says Lemon offered a six-figure settlement but that it never materialized. From the NY Post:
CNN responded in a statement: “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.”
A source close to Lemon said Hice’s camp contacted Lemon’s lawyers and demanded $1.5 million in exchange for not filing the suit, the source said. Lemon refused the demand because he did nothing wrong, the source said.
A Hice source said there were talks about a financial settlement and that Lemon’s side offered “six figures,” but in the end, the potential deal never materialized.
CNN didn’t comment on the “six-figure” claim.
Lemon deserves the presumption of innocence, but if he really did offer a substantial settlement that might indicate he was worried about this story getting out. On the other hand, there’s no proof at the moment that such a settlement was ever offered. The person making the claim isn’t even named in the story.
As always, I don’t think we should believe allegations like this on principle. Believe all men is not any better than believe all women. Part of Hice’s complaint is the claim that lots of other people heard about what happened to him and some even mocked him or questioned him about it. It would help his case if someone could back up hearing his story shortly after it allegedly happened. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what evidence he has.