CNN's Don Lemon Criticizes Kevin Hart Over Ellen DeGeneres Interview and Poor Response to Black LGBT Community

CNN host Don Lemon has criticized Kevin Hart for what he perceived to be a shallow response over the comedian's decision not to host the Academy Awards ceremony next month.

In December, Hart pulled out of hosting the 91st Oscars after a series of homophobic tweets he wrote between 2009 and 2011 resurfaced. The comedian initially declined to apologize, before eventually giving up the gig.

Read more: Reports suggest Kevin Hart could host Oscars 2019 after Ellen DeGeneres says she wants him to

When the controversy over his tweets emerged, Hart defended himself by saying, "I swear, man, our world is becoming beyond crazy. I'm not going to let the craziness frustrate me or anger me, especially when I worked hard to get to the mental space that I am at now."

Lemon said on Friday during his CNN Tonight show, "Someone like Kevin Hart, with one of the biggest megaphones in the entire world, he can be a leader. He can help change homophobia in the black community, something Kevin's old Twitter jokes addressed but in the wrong way."

Lemon also addressed Hart directly, pointing out his decision to step down from his role as Oscars host had not been followed by an apology. Lemon said he had not seen "any meaningful outreach to the LGBT community" from the comedian.

Among the tweets sent by Hart, one referenced disciplining his son for playing with a doll house. In 2011, the movie star tweeted: "Yo if my son comes home & try's 2 play with my daughters doll house I'm going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice 'stop that's gay.'"

On Friday, Lemon addressed the tweet, saying that what might have seemed like a joke to Hart was the harsh reality in some communities.

"That was a joke to Kevin. The truth is, that is a reality for many little boys in the U.S. […] somewhere a black dad is beating his black son," Lemon said. "Those views of the LGBT people in the black community have consequences."

Lemon's comments came a day after the controversy surrounding Hart was again cast into the spotlight, when the actor appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Despite the criticism of Hart, DeGeneres suggested she would like the Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle actor to host the Academy Awards ceremony anyway. DeGeneres, who is openly gay, said she had contacted the Academy to convince them to offer the gig to Hart again.

"They're going to win if you don't host the Oscars," DeGeneres said, referencing the "trolls" that she claimed had attacked Hart since he announced his decision to step down.

"You can't let them destroy you, and they can't destroy because you have too much talent. No one can do that. And for them to stop you from your dream, from what you wanted to do, from what you have a right to do and from what you should be doing, it's why they haven't found another host."

Hart told Degeneres: "On my side, openly, I say, I'm wrong for my past words. I say it. I said it. I understand that. I know that. My kids know when their dad messes up. I'm in front of it because I want to be an example so they know what to do. In this case, it's tough for me because it was an attack.

"This wasn't an accident. This wasn't a coincidence. It wasn't a coincidence that the day after I received the job that tweets just somehow manifested from 2008… To go through 40,000 tweets to get back to 2008, that's an attack. That's a malicious attack on my character."

Lemon suggested Hart's appearance on the show gave the impression of a man blaming someone else for his own mistakes.

"For many in the gay community, especially in the black community, the Twitter apologies on Ellen have fallen flat," Lemon said. "[Hart] somehow turns himself into a victim instead of acknowledging the real victims of violent and sometimes deadly homophobia."

The Oscars are set to air on ABC on February 24, but the Academy is yet to reveal who will replace Hart as the host.

Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart attends Morehouse College REAL TALK with 'Night School' actor Kevin Hart & producer Will Packer at Morehouse College on September 11, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Universal Pictures