Farmingdale State College in New York paid ousted CNN anchor Don Lemon $75,000 for an hour-long speaking engagement in February, according to public records obtained by the New Guard.
Lemon, who hosted a primetime show on CNN for nearly a decade prior to being demoted to mornings this past fall,
“Join a moderated conversation with veteran TV journalist Don Lemon, a well-known and trusted source of information from CNN,” the event information page on Farmingdale’s website states. “An inspiration to diverse audiences, he shares his hard-fought rise in television news as one of the most prominent African-American and gay men in journalism today,” it continues.The facial expressions of Lemon’s audience certainly do not suggest that he did a very good job of entertaining and inspiring the crowd.
The New Guard submitted a freedom of information request on February 28 to determine how much Lemon was being paid for his appearance, which was jointly sponsored by the Office of Student Activities, Student Government Association, and Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion. The request went unfulfilled for two months, well beyond New York’s 20-day response period requirement.
It wasn’t until Young America’s Foundation’s legal team filed an appeal that the university finally produced its records showing a $75,000 check made out to a speaker agency representing Lemon. As of this writing, Lemon is no longer listed on the agency’s website as an available speaker.
It’s unclear whether or not his absence from the speaker list is related to the recent collapse of his CNN career and misogyny accusations.
The fees for Lemon’s honorarium were derived from the university’s mandatory $100 per semester activity fee.
While it’s always good for students to have the opportunity to hear from prominent public figures, presenting a variety of perspectives is essential. A review of Farmngdale’s events calendar indicates that the school hasn’t invited any conservative speakers throughout the past five years to deliver a campus lecture.
None of the three sponsoring organizations responded to the New Guard’s request for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.