Don Lemon says he had multiple conversations over the weekend with Kevin Hart, following his emotional statement about Hart during his CNN show Friday night. And though Lemon and Hart don’t appear to see exactly eye-to-eye when it comes to how Hart should behave toward the LGBT community, Lemon indicated he is trying to give Hart the benefit of the doubt — even if he will continue to call out bad behavior.
Near the end of his Monday night show, Lemon told viewers he’d had a “mostly off the record conversation” with Hart on the phone and in text, and while he wouldn’t break an agreement to keep the conversation private, he could “speak in generalities.”
Lemon then played audio from Hart’s SiriusXM show on Monday. In the clip, Hart apologized for the remarks, but said “these weren’t words I said to gay individuals,” and added that he hadn’t been around people from the LGBT community before when he made those jokes and tweets, which were resurfaced when he was announced as host of the Oscars in December, leading to his resignation just two days later.
“Look,” Lemon said. “You may not like the way he said it, [but] he did say, ‘I’m sorry, I apologize.'”
Lemon added that if Hart meant what he said on his show, “he is learning that lesson.”
He then played another audio clip from Hart’s Monday SiriusXM show. “I don’t like the forcing. Don Lemon goes on CNN [and says] ‘you can fix this become an ally.’ That’s not my life dream,” Hart says in the clip. “Kevin Hart apologizes for his remarks that hurt members of the LGBT community. I apologize. I’m not moving on from the apology and I hope that it’s accepted. If it’s not accepted than I can’t do anything about that … you can’t get what you want without accepting change.”
Said Lemon: “He is sorry, he said, but it is not his dream to be an ally for the LGBT community. Now, you can take that however want. You can be upset by it. However you want to feel. But that is his right. Whether I like it or not, whether you like it or not, that is his right… he can do that and you can feel about it however you want.”
“So listen, there’s been a lot of blowback,” Lemon continued. “Kevin backed out of hosting the Oscars, and on some level you can understand that for him, it may feel like he’s under attack. Because he’s in the middle of it. But I will tell you for me, as I relate to him and I can talk about my part, he’s not a victim.”
“So listen to what he’s saying there. He wants to be accepted. He wants us to accept him. He wants to be embraced on his own merits. Isn’t that what the LGBT community wants?” said Lemon, who added that “Maybe now [Hart] knows just a little bit more of what that feels like.”
“We can and should hold people with large megaphones to account,” Lemon continued. “But if we don’t want to be bullied, we can’t be bullies. You don’t want to turn into what you’re fighting against. So hold to account, call them out, but you don’t want to bully people. I might get a lot of blowback for that, but I’m just being honest.’
As for whether or not Hart and Lemon will be speaking on the matter again: “I did ask Kevin to come on our show multiple times during our conversations,” Lemon said. “But he said he’s not interested. So, he’s not interested.”
Watch the whole clip above.