If someone told me earlier this week that I’d be logging on Friday to write a story about how CNN’s Don Lemon of all people was actually right about something, I’d have laughed them into next week.
And yet here we are.
Lemon, who back in September was demoted off his prime time “Tonight” perch and moved to the weekday “CNN This Morning” show alongside colleagues Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins, took an apparently unpopular (among those on the set) stance on the Thursday program after stating an inconvenient truth about women’s soccer.
The context of the discussion was the alleged “pay disparity” between the U.S. women’s and men’s soccer teams in context of reports that the women’s team will get half of what the men’s team earns at the World Cup under an equal pay agreement signed back in February.
Lemon tried to politely drop it on Harlow and Collins that the reason the men’s team earns more is that they are watched more. Because of that, they would naturally bring more home than the women’s team.
That did not sit well with either triggered female anchor, both of who pivoted to alleging that the reason the men’s team was more popular was that there was a supposed disparity in coverage and investment from networks and sponsors respectively. In other words, the women were victims no matter what they did, according to Harlow and Collins.
But Lemon persisted even though he was periodically interrupted:
Lemon refused to back down. He prefaced his response, saying, “I’m not sexist. I grew up the only boy in a family of all women.” He then told Harlow, “I understand what you’re saying, but not everybody honestly has the same skill, not everybody has the same interest in the sport.”
He clarified, “I think that women should be paid more, I really do, but if the men –” Collins interrupted him, quipping, “You’re right that not everyone has the same skills cause the women are better skilled.”
Poppy applauded Collins’ joke, but Lemon dismissed it, saying, “Well the women are better skilled against better other women, but if the women played the men, they wouldn’t be winning the way that they win.”
A frustrated Harlow replied, “I’m not even going to get into that argument.”
After the commercial break, the three resumed their debate. Lemon continued defending his point: “So I’m just saying that if there is more interest in a men’s sport, the businesspeople, the people who make money off of sports, will put that on television because we live in a capitalist society. And if people are interested in that then there would be more attention and more money would be paid.”
The two women continued to argue that it was a disparity in coverage and support issue before moving on.
Don Lemon leaves his CNN colleagues perplexed by stating the obvious about pay in US soccer:
“Everyone’s going to hate me … I’m not sexist…the men’s team makes more money, the men should get more money.” pic.twitter.com/iZiwSHVBhd
— TheBlaze (@theblaze) December 1, 2022
Even if Collins and Harlow were right about how women’s sports supposedly do not get the attention men’s do because networks and advertisers are more willing to invest in men’s sports, that would still not be a justification for giving the women’s team half of what the men earned in the 2022 World Cup. It just isn’t.
I should note that Lemon isn’t the only “woke” public figure to make the “to get more money you’ve got to earn it” argument. Soccer star Megan Rapinoe herself, who is the most outspoken of the bunch on the women’s team on how the female players are supposedly treated unfairly when it comes to pay, inadvertently made a similar argument in an interview she did with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in 2019 after the U.S. women’s team won the FIFA Women’s World Cup:
“Fans can come to games. Obviously, national team games would be a hot ticket. But we have nine teams in the NWSL. You can go to your league games. You can support that way. You can buy players’ jerseys, you can lend your support in that way. You can tell your friends about it, you can become season ticket holders. I think in terms of that, that’s the easiest way for fans to get involved.”
In other words, bring in more spectators/viewers and revenue, and then you’ll get paid more. It’s as simple as that.
Better yet, let’s let Ronda Rousey explain it. Here’s what she said about equal pay when asked about it in 2015:
“I think that how much you get paid should have something to do with how much money you bring in. I’m the highest paid fighter not because Dana and Lorenzo wanted to do something nice for the ladies. They do it because I bring in the highest numbers. They do it because I make them the most money. And I think the money that they make should be proportionate to the money that they bring in.”
‘Nuff said – partly because she’s spot on and partly because I ain’t gonna get into an argument with Ronda Rousey…