For Variety’s latest issue, we asked Megyn Kelly to write a tribute for CNN’s Don Lemon, one of 50 people to make our New Power of New York list. Here’s why Lemon represents a new generation of movers and shakers that capture the best of Manhattan.
Don and I first met years ago — I gave him jazz for once making fun of me on the air, and he teased me for being too sensitive. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. He watches my show and I watch his sometimes, and we’ll text each other during the commercial breaks with thoughts on the news or the guests.
We have a lot in common: I’m an anchor at the Fox News Channel who’s come out as an Independent. He’s an anchor at CNN who’s come out as a gay former Republican. We were destined to like each other. I have seen him take risks on the air, and then get pilloried for it — which I respect. At least he’s bold, mixing it up a bit. It’s tough to irritate Don — he’s easy going, and quick to smile, always in on the joke. He’s also introspective.
Not too long ago, Anderson Cooper was on my show discussing the impact of losing his father at a young age. I lost mine when I was a teenager. NBC’s Savannah Guthrie — the same. Don told me later he lost his dad at age 7. It changes a person, creates a void — one a person might try to fill, possibly … by getting a job in TV news. Perhaps we need the adoration (perhaps we went to the wrong place!). And yet I think Don deserves our esteem, for his honesty, curiosity, the courage he shows, and — despite his professional achievements — for not taking himself too seriously.
Kelly is the anchor of “The Kelly File” on Fox News Channel. Read our full New Power of New York List here, as well as tributes for Megyn Kelly (by Judge Judy), Savannah Guthrie (by Matt Lauer) and Chelsea Clinton (by Bill Clinton).