Don Lemon is catching a lot of flak for a comment he made implying women can stop unwanted sexual assaults. On Tuesday night, Lemon interviewed Joan Tarshis, a woman who recently went public with her accusation that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted her in 1969.
During their exchange, Lemon questioned Tarshis on why she didn’t bite Cosby and use her teeth “as a weapon” when he forced her to perform oral sex.
Here’s their conversation:
Lemon: Can I ask you this, because, and, and please, I don’t mean to be crude, ok?
Lemon: Because I know some of you — you said this last night, that he — 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: And you said he made you perform oral sex.
Lemon: You know, there are ways not to perform oral sex if you didn’t want to do it.
Tarshis: Oh. Um, I was kind of stoned at the time, and quite honestly, that didn’t even enter my mind. Now I wish it would have.
Lemon: Right. Meaning the using of the teeth, right?
Tarshis: Yes, that’s what I’m thinking you’re —
Lemon: As a weapon.
Tarshis: Yeah, I didn’t even think of it.
Lemon: Biting. So —
Lemon: Yes. I had to ask. I mean, it is, yeah.
Tarshis: Yes. No, it didn’t cross my mind.
On Wednesday, Lemon addressed his own remarks during a CNN segment.
“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,” Lemon stated. “If my question to her struck anyone as insensitive I’m sorry as that was certainly not my intention.”
After the Tuesday interview, many people took to Twitter to express their outrage at Lemon’s comments. Some taunted his question, while others directly accused him of victim-blaming.
Why did JFK drive down that road in Dallas? You’re telling me there were no other streets? #donlemonreporting
— Joe ‘Monk’ Pardavila (@joepardavila) November 19, 2014
So even with all of those Jews you all still couldn’t make a run for it out of that camp? #DonLemonReporting
— Elon James White (@elonjames) November 19, 2014
“I had to ask.” No you didn’t. Victim-blaming is actually not a requirement when interviewing a survivor. #DonLemon
— Missy (@missykaybm) November 19, 2014
11:52 am, Nov. 19 Updated with Don Lemon’s statement and video