CNN host Don Lemon addressed the controversy surrounding Kevin Hart and his past homophobic comments on his show Friday evening.
Last month, Hart stepped down from hosting this year's Oscars ceremony after tweets resurfaced of him making the disparaging remarks. Hart said the Academy gave him an ultimatum: to apologize or step down. Hart said, "I chose to pass on the apology," saying he had addressed his comments in the past. He then later announced he was giving up his spot and also apologized.
As a gay black man, Lemon said the conversation is important to him and he feels obligated to speak out about the controversy.
"For many in the gay and black community, the Twitter apologies or explanations are falling flat," Lemon said. "To many they seem insincere and that he has somehow turned himself into a victim instead of acknowledging the real victims of violent and sometimes deadly homophobia."
Hart sat down withthis week and explained his decision to step down. "Now all of a sudden it's a little darker because the conversation isn't about me hosting the Oscars. The conversation is about Kevin Hart's tweets from 10 years ago and homophobia. I don't wanna step on that stage and make that night about me and my past when you have people that have worked hard to step on that stage for the first time and receive an award."
"I'm now taking away from all those moments because the night is focused on something else now," he continued. "I said I would much rather step down and apologize again. Once again, I'm sorry if these words hurt. I'm sorry but either my apology is accepted or it isn't. I can move forward or I can't but you can't grow as a person unless you make mistakes."
Lemon said many people need to keep the conversation going because "it's life or death," and someone with Hart's platform can be a leader to change homophobia in the black community.
One of Hart's past tweets referenced breaking a dollhouse over his young son's head if he found him playing with it. "That was a joke to Kevin but the truth is, that is a reality to many little boys in the United States," Lemon said. "Somewhere a black dad is beating his black son, the same way it happened to my friend, Oscar-nominated director Lee Daniels."
"We need to talk about how people who may have messed up can become allies," Lemon said. "Apologizing and moving on does not make the world a better place for people who are gay or people who are transgender, being an ally does."
On Saturday morning, Hart seemed to respond to the criticism on Instagram, although he did not name Lemon.
"When did we get to the point where we forgot that we all learn, then we all have the ability to grow and with that growth comes a wealth of knowledge. You can't change without a understanding of what GROWTH means," he wrote. "A news anchor or a journalist does not start at the top... They have to LEARN and develop to be great at their job."
On her show, DeGeneres said she called the Academy in an effort to get Hart the hosting job back. Hours after the interview aired, Variety reported that leadership in charge of the show are open to Hart resuming the role.