Talib Kweli Addresses Don Lemon CNN Interview, Describes Ferguson Experience

The rapper wrote a lengthy article on Medium addressing the interview and recent events in Ferguson, Missouri.

Taking to the blog-publishing platform Medium yesterday, Talib Kweli detailed his recent on-air interaction with CNN anchor Don Lemon and criticized the mainstream media’s “propensity to ignore the facts in favor of sensationalism” with regard to stories such as the killing of Mike Brown and current protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

During the CNN interview Kweli, who released his sixth album in December, criticized CNN’s coverage of Ferguson protests before being cut off by Lemon who claimed that the network has been fair and balanced. During the interview, Kweli also claimed that the anchor failed to greet him prior to the segment and didn’t know how to pronounce his name.

In his Medium-published article, Talib outlines the frustrating Q&A before breaking down his perspective on the ills of mainstream media, the continued presence of white supremacy, and his support for community-based activism.

“I’ve been interviewed on the news many times,” Kweli writes. “Each time the interviewer made sure to say hi, greet me and thank me for coming down. Lemon did none of these things, and I found that odd. Still, I didn’t take it personal. I am not a big mainstream artist, I don’t expect everyone to know or even care about who I am.

“Many people were happy at how this interview went,” he continues. “They agreed with my point and my stance. There were also many who were incredibly disappointed with me and felt the interview was a wasted opportunity that became a competition of egos instead. I am disappointed in myself for allowing the interview to become a spectacle which further distracts from the execution style killing of unarmed teenager Mike Brown. Even though I went in with the best intentions, I became a part of the spectacle.”

Later in the piece, Kweli explains the major point of conflict in the discussion.

“I began to make a point about a CNN.com headline that read ‘Ferguson Protest Calm Until Bottles Fly,’” he writes. “I was there for the event in question and I felt the article did a disservice to the community. I had no initial intention to bring that article up, but I felt it became necessary once Mr. Lemon suggested that CNN was ‘always’ fair and balanced. After getting out half a sentence, which was ‘The article says police chased down men’, Mr. Lemon interrupted me to me to say-

‘That’s not what happened where you were.’

Let that sink in. How would he know? I was there, he wasn’t. This dismissiveness of a first hand account illustrated my point that the mainstream media has the propensity to ignore the facts in favor of sensationalism.

This is where I dug in. I refused to let Mr. Lemon say anything else until I finished my statement, and threatened to walk off if he didn’t let me talk. I don’t need CNN, they called me. My time in the streets with the people is far more valuable then time spent being interrupted by some anchor who doesn’t know who I am. If it wasn’t for Van Jones, who was standing on the side watching and motioning for me to stick it out, I would’ve left and headed right back down to Canefield and West Florrisant to be with the people.

Mr. Lemon also dug in, but only to continue cutting me off about how he wasn’t cutting me off and then he said this-

‘Police say that’s not what happened where you were.’”

Later in the article, the Gravitas emcee directly addresses the disconnect between media reports and on-the-ground “protest movements.”

“In Hip Hop circles, people often spend far more time complaining about what they don’t like rather than supporting what they do,” he writes. “I see the same thing happen with protest movement. Rather than seek out and support community organizers who do this work whether the camera is on them or not, folks sit at home in front of their computers complaining about what other people don’t do. The irony is they are only criticizing themselves. If you only see protest movements when CNN covers them, that's your fault, and it certainly doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

So what’s the solution? There isn’t just one, we must be strategic and work on a collection of solutions. There are those who say the solution is to vote, but every problem is not solved at the ballot box. We have a black president, that is not stopping police from executing us. If we are not organizing voter blocs like Adam Clayton Powell Jr. used to do back in the 1960's then our votes have a far less chance of changing anything. Education is key, but westernized education alone will not save us. Mike Brown was scheduled to attend Vatterott College this fall, that didn’t save him. Some say it’s religion but in the words of poet St. Teresa of Avila, ‘God has no hands but our hands to do his work today.’”

At the end of the piece, Kweli also encourages readers to support organizations like the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Dream Defenders, Black Youth Project, and more. Click here to read the full article.

RELATED: Talib Kweli Says "Media's Been Doing A Horrible Job" Covering Ferguson, Missouri Events

18 Comments

  • Anon

    There were also many who were incredibly disappointed with me and felt the interview was a wasted opportunity that became a competition of egos instead. I am disappointed in myself for allowing the interview to become a spectacle which further distracts from the execution style killing of unarmed teenager Mike Brown. Even though I went in with the best intentions, I became a part of the spectacle. - Kweli nuff said

  • Real Talk 1000

    The solution to Mike Brown's killing and other human/social ills can mostly found in rational thinking. Logic, the study of detecting falsehood, errors, contradiction. Talib Kweli, quote: "[T]he mainstream media has the propensity to ignore the facts in favor of sensationalism". Paraphrasing his position, it is wrong for people to ignore facts. And also it is wrong to exaggerate true stories which is the equivalent of lying, as an accurate interpretation of events is distorted, which results in the general public to be misinformed. Talib Kweli, quote: "...the execution style killing of unarmed teenager Mike Brown". Due to the fact that "execution" has a specific meaning and due to the facts that have now been established indicate the killing of Mike Brown is not consistent with the definition of "execution" or what would rationally be interpreted as "execution-style". Conclusion: Talib Kweli has made statements that are objectively contradictions. In the first statement listed, he denounces ignoring facts and sensationalizing stories, and than in the second statement listed he ignores/misrepresents facts and sensationalizes the killing of Mike Brown. This is inconsistent. Either ignoring the truth or sensationalizing the truth is moral. Or ignoring the truth or sensationalizing the truth is immoral. The Law of Contradiction. 'Socrates' can not be both 'Socrates' and 'not Socrates' simultaneously. Similarly, ignoring the truth and sensationalizing the truth cannot be both acceptable and unacceptable behavior. fyi, from my interpretation of available facts, Officer Wilson shooting unarmed Mike Brown was in all likelihood and act of murder, as opposed to an act of self-defense. In the same way that George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin. My opinion on Mike Brown's killing is subject to change if facts show that Mike Brown in someway was violent and had access to a weapon (i.e. stealing Officer Wilson's gun) and therefore the capability to kill Officer Wilson. However the likelihood of the killing of Mike Brown being a moral act of self-defense is extremely low in my opinion. We'll see as the truth becomes more clear. This is assuming that Mike Brown was running towards and/or physically assaulted Officer Wilson. The two reasons which back up this opinion that it was murder are these: First reason, an important component of an act of self-defense is called the "proportional theory of punishment" (as articulated by Locke, Rothbard, and other who have written on moral philosophy, best summed up by the old adage, "let the punishment fit the crime"). Example, a shopkeeper who shoots a child dead after the child stole a piece of candy. While the child certainly committed a criminal act, we would reasonably conclude that the shopkeeper here is the greater criminal and his act of shooting the child dead would not be a moral act of self-defense, but an immoral act of murder. Second reason, is similar to George Zimmerman killing Trayvon Martin was murder and not self-defense, and that is applying "the proportional theory of punishment" to unarmed, physical assaults. While an unarmed, physical assault is criminal, it is not a life threatening event. This can be proven by the statistics which demonstrate the extremely low amounts of incidents in which individuals were killed or permanently/seriously injured following a fight. While committing an unarmed assault is not the moral equivalent of a child stealing a piece of candy, it is still a criminal act, yet like a child stealing a piece of candy, shooting the alleged criminal dead is objectively not a proportional act of punishment. Unarmed, fist fights, street fights, bar brawls, etc between two individuals are regrettable, but not grounds to shoot someone dead. If two men got in a fight in a bar, and one pulled a gun and shot the other dead, we would not call this an act of self defense, the shooter would be charged with murder. For the same reason, Trayvon Martin and (likely) Mike Brown were murdered, even if they were guilty of assault. Any accounts of Zimmerman or (likely) Wilson being in life threatening circumstances are entirely exaggerations, i.e. LIES. People who dont understand rational thinking, such as Talib Kweli and MSNBC anchors have to be fascist tools and lie about Trayvon Martin and Michale Brown being innocent little angels who were killed execution-style by racist white men. They have to give excuses to criminal looters and others, because they aren't interested in facts, they are interested in perpetuating their own mythology, no better or worse than the people who are lie to protect Zimmerman or Wilson. Lies, assumptions, which simply create more disorder and confusion instead of handing out justice to those who commit criminal acts. And the fact of the matter is Wilson deserves to be innocent until proven guilty, as there is still a small (yet extremely unlikely) chance he committed an act of self-defense. Individuals who are interested in truth don't get behind people like mindless, fascist sports fans, they simply get behind the truth.

    • This is for you

      In Hip Hop circles, people often spend far more time complaining about what they dont like rather than supporting what they do, he writes. I see the same thing happen with protest movement. Rather than seek out and support community organizers who do this work whether the camera is on them or not, folks sit at home in front of their computers complaining about what other people dont do. The irony is they are only criticizing themselves." ^ your response was already predicted Your "real talk 1000" is ABSENT of a FACT......aggressive policing is a NATIONWIDE problem that has been prevalent for DECADES, NOT AN ISOLATED PROBLEM due to the ACTIONS of it's participants in highly publicized cases There are FOUR cases of brutality RIGHT NOW, IN MISSOURI, 2 in CALIFORNIA, one in NEW YORK, and a COLD but RECENT case in OHIO, making it a strong FIVE. That is NATIONWIDE, an issue the WHOLE COUNTRY HAS and the only way we make it RIGHT FOR THE FUTURE is by CHANGING THIS FLAW FOR ALL OF US. The guy in NYC was an OLDER man, the lady in Cali was an OLDER woman it's NOT JUST THE KIDS. Now PLEASE, BE QUIET and let those who are addressing the REALITY stand up front and teach.

  • Anonymous

    Big up to Talib Kweli, learned a few things today and will look up one or two of the people he mentioned in this interview. One never stops learning.

  • AidaRBrito

    my mum in-law recently got yellow Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Sedan by work part time using a laptop... visit homepage fox71.com

  • Anonymous

    this negro is as uneducated as they came!!!

  • News

    Black people need to stop rioting over this entire thing, and start reflecting on the many black on black murders across the nation. You can blame other races and factors all you want, but the bottom line is that more blacks kill blacks than anyone else killing blacks.

    • Anonymous

      Black on Black crime is an excuse y'all use to omit yourselves of blame and exert your "superiority". You don't live around a Black community to know of what we do to try and combat the killing of our own. You've just typed your across the board ignorance with no experience for all of us to see what your own have been teaching you, the same old racist idealism that has existed since the Jim Crow segregation days. Applaud yourself.

    • black

      This is not true according to fbi crime stats more whites kill each other than blacks but thats neither here nor their because they have nothing to do with police brutality which is a different subject all in itself we do focus on black on black crime maybe you should get of the house and see it for yourself. Racism exists whether you want to admit it or not go get out and see it for yourself black on black crime isn't the reason racism still exists its people like you who want to act as if situations like this don't exist or don't matter.

  • Anonymous

    Why isnt Immortal Technique there? Or speaking about this event? .

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  • Anonymous

    Talib did the right thing, Lemon is as much House Negro as Shawn Carter, fuck both of those cheap whores. #MIKEBROWN

  • Anonymous

    You stupid nigggers just need to stop killing each other over Jordan's and find something more productive to do

    • Anonymous

      Dear outsider bigot coward, killing for Jordans was back in the 90s. Post up 50 news articles about kids getting killed for Jordans from 2013-2014 and MAYBE, we'll believe you.

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    My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can't believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do, ======================= WWW.WORKTIN.COM =======================

  • Shone Jones

    Talib knew what he was getting into when he went on CNN. Lemon is one of the biggest phonies in television journalism history. Dude's wake-up call is coming.

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