Don Lemon Slammed for Treatment of Alleged Bill Cosby Rape Victim

Don Lemon may be in need of some sensitivity training. The CNN Tonight host, 48, angered viewers on Tuesday, Nov. 18, with his treatment of an alleged Bill Cosby rape victim who appeared on the show. 

Lemon sat down for an interview with a guest named Joan Tarshis, one of multiple women to come forward in recent weeks with allegations of past sexual misconduct by Cosby, now 77. 

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Noting that he did not mean to be “crude,” Lemon pushed Tarshis on the circumstances of her ordeal with Cosby. 

“You said this last night, that… you lied to him and said ‘I have an infection, and if you rape me, or if you do — if you have intercourse with me, then you will probably get it and give it to your wife,'” Lemon asked the alleged victim. “And you said he made you perform oral sex.”

Joan Tarshis and Bill Cosby

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After Tarshis confirmed this was the case, Lemon questioned her defense against the rape.

“You know, there are ways not to perform oral sex if you didn’t want to do it,” he said, going on to suggest that she should’ve “used the teeth” to fight back.

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“I was kind of stoned at the time, and quite honestly, that didn’t even enter my mind,” Tarshis explained. “Now I wish it would have.”

The reaction on social media was swift and angry, as viewers called Lemon’s questions “offensive,” “inappropriate,” and “tone-deaf.” Watch the controversial interview in the video above. 


Lemon commented on the controversy on Wednesday, Nov. 19, explaining, “I need to say something before we get to our next story. A word about my interview last night with Cosby accuser Joan Tarshis. As I am a victim myself I would never want to suggest that any victim could have prevented a rape. If my question to her struck anyone as insensitive, I am sorry as that is certainly and was not my intention.”

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