We Checked, And Don Lemon Told A Series Of Whoppers During The Elon Musk Interview

[Screenshot/YouTube/The Don Lemon Show]

Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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Ex-CNN host Don Lemon pushed a variety of inaccuracies and straight up falsehoods during his widely circulated March interview with tech billionaire Elon Musk.

Lemon cited unspecified “studies” or “evidence” at least 12 times during the hour-long interview, according to a Daily Caller review, specifically to support the liberal sacred cow of “Diversity Equity and Inclusion” (DEI) and the various initiatives that go along with the DEI belief system.

Lemon repeatedly insisted that there was “no evidence” medical schools and the airline industry were lowering their standards, DEI didn’t have negative effects and that diverse companies performed better. It turns out, Lemon appears to be inaccurate or incorrect on all these claims.

The Daily Caller asked Lemon’s producers for a list of the studies and evidence he cited during the interview. Lemon’s spokesperson, Allison Gollust, provided just three sources and said some of what Lemon referenced was “more general in nature and did not cite a specific study.”

Whopper #1: Medical schools aren’t lowering their standards

During a debate about DEI, Lemon told Musk, “There’s research on DEI in medicine, and there’s no evidence that standards are being lowered [in medical schools], that DEI is affecting medicine.”

Approximately 40 medical institutions, including City University of New York (CUNY) School of Medicine, have foregone or provided alternative options to taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) for certain Black and Hispanic students, according to a list compiled by Inspira Advantage, an admissions consulting firm.

A CUNY School of Medicine seminar moderator said their program prevents the MCAT from acting as a gatekeeper. The school’s website says their program is committed to “Increasing the number of physicians of African-American, Hispanic/Latinx and other ethnic backgrounds who have been historically underrepresented in the medical profession and whose communities have been historically underserved by primary care practitioners.”

In 2022, minority students became exempt from taking the MCAT when applying to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (PSOM) if they participated in a summer research program, a press release reads. The school partnered with five historically black colleges and universities to offer the program for “underrepresented” groups.

The U.S. Medical Licensing’s Step 1 exam, the first of three tests required for medical licensing, became pass/fail in January 2022, according to AAMC.

Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, chairman of medical watchdog Do No Harm, said in a 2022 Newsweek op-ed that changes like these make it difficult to know whether graduates are prepared to enter the medical field.

“People of every race and background are fully capable of becoming world-class physicians. Medical schools should seek out the best candidates who are most likely to provide the best care for patients, regardless of what they look like or where they come from,” Goldfarb wrote. “Anything less jeopardizes the very purpose of these institutions. The medical elite may not want to admit it, but their current approach to achieving diversity has a steep cost, and it’s wrong to ask patients to pay it.”

Certain medical institutions have become dedicated to promoting DEI in the sciences. In 2021, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute announced it was allocating $2 billion to promote “diversity and inclusion in science.”  The National Cancer Institute also established their Equity and Inclusion program after the summer of 2020.

Lemon’s representative Allison Gollust sent the Daily Caller an article by the Duke Chronicle to back up the former CNN host’s claims. In the article, Duke University School of Medicine denied lowering standards as part of its DEI initiative.

“Duke University’s School of Medicine has not lowered its standards for medical school admission or graduation, and continues to rely on GPA and MCAT scores, among other criteria,” the Duke Health statement reads. “Achieving health equity while recruiting diverse talent within our education and training programs allows us to deliver the highest quality care to our patients and makes Duke a world leader in innovative and transformative research.”

Gollust did not provide any other evidence to the Daily Caller nor respond to an inquiry on why Lemon failed to note he was referring to a Duke Chronicle article to back up his claims.

Duke University School of Medicine’s statement followed Musk’s response to Daily Wire Editor Emeritus Ben Shapiro, who posted a video of Duke University surgical resident Vignesh Raman. Raman said his “heart sinks” when his patients watch Fox News or wear MAGA hats. Raman added that the school was switching to a completely “holistic review process” and “abandoning all sort of metrics and screens.”

“Standardized tests are backed by evidence and can be objectively evaluated. To conduct a ‘holistic review,’ some schools are requiring their admissions committee members to take training on how to evaluate applicants based on experiences and attributes,” Do No Harm Program Manager Laura Morgan told the DCNF in April 2023. “It’s not adequate because it is subjective, as opposed to standardized tests which are objective metrics.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK: Don Lemon attends the Michael Kors Collection Fall/Winter 2023 Runway Show on February 15, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Michael Kors)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK: Don Lemon attends the 2023 TIME100 Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 26, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK: Don Lemon attends the The Cinema Society Screening Of “Monica” at IFC Center on May 11, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

Whopper #2: DEI isn’t affecting medicine

Lemon also insisted there was “no evidence” that DEI was affecting medicine. Musk said that while DEI may not be currently harming people, it could hypothetically occur in the future if standards were lowered.

Some medical professionals’ move to “desex” medical language and identify patients by their preferred gender and pronouns, a staple of DEI, has led to concerns regarding treatment and procedures. A group of 120 researchers and academics sent a letter to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in late Dec. 2023, warning that de-emphasizing a patient’s biological sex and relying on their gender identity can lead to serious health implications and medical malpractice, according to The Age, an Australian outlet.

A pregnant 32-year-old woman suffered a miscarriage in an emergency room after her electronic medical record (EMR) indicated she was a man, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. The patient complained of “intermittent lower abdominal pain” and high blood pressure. Medical personnel treated the woman as a man, and it was reportedly not until hours later that a physician realized she was in labor. As a result, the woman suffered pregnancy complications, including cord prolapse of uncertain duration and delivered a stillborn baby, the Journal reported.

In another instance, a woman identifying as a man reportedly needed intubation after a car accident. Due to the hospital accidentally mistaking the woman for a man, she was inundated with an endotracheal tube meant for males, according to The Age. The tube reportedly caused her to undergo multiple surgeries to fix the damage to her trachea.

Lemon Asks Musk About Drug Use

Whopper #3: Standards are not being lowered for pilots 

Lemon also stated there was “no evidence” standards were being lowered in the airline industry. However, the Daily Caller received no studies or documentation from Lemon’s representatives to back up his claims.

Airlines have lowered their standards for hiring pilots as emergency landings and other serious issues have occurred.

Southwest Airlines cut the number of engine turbine hours needed for new pilots in half in Feb. 2023, shortening it from 1,000 hours of flying time to 500 hours, according to Dallas Morning News. (RELATED: ‘You Desperately Want Censorship’: Musk Scolds Don Lemon During Clash On ‘Content Moderation’)

Delta Airlines announced in 2021 that it removed its requirement for pilots to have a four-year college degree. Instead, applicants need to undergo initial training and accumulate 1,500 hours of flight time to become a pilot.

United Airlines opened a flight school to train 5,000 aspiring pilots with little-to-no experience by 2030 and aimed for half of its students to be women or people of color, according to CNBC.

While Lemon accurately pointed out that most pilots are white males, airlines have not seemingly explained how making staff more diverse by race and gender will ensure that pilots are more skilled, talented and will keep passengers safe.

Analysts have warned that prioritizing DEI over hard metrics is a threat to passengers’ safety.

“The main focus of airline DEI programs is promoting so-called racial ‘representation goals.’ In other words, racial discrimination that puts woke ideology above safety,” Will Hild, executive director of nonprofit consumer protection agency Consumers’ Research, told the Daily Caller News Foundation in January.

A United Airlines plane had to emergency land in late February after the plane’s wing began to come apart.

The airline’s CEO Scott Kirby said in January they are striving for 50% of graduates of their pilot classes to be “women or people of color,” without any mention of their skills or past experience.

Southwest Airlines has also included the goal of “doubling the percentage of racial diversity and increasing gender diversity” in its Senior Management Committee by 2025 in comparison to 2020, according to its DEI webpage.

A Boeing 747-8 cargo plane operated by Atlas Air emergency landed at Miami International Airport in mid-January at 11:03 p.m. after experiencing a mid-flight engine malfunction.

The Cascade Range of mountains are pictured on the horizon as the final 747 airplane produced by Boeing, a 747-8 Freighter for Atlas Air, taxis before take off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington on February 1, 2023. – Boeing officially bids farewell to the original jumbo jet, the 747, as it makes its final commercial delivery of an aircraft that democratized flying and serves US presidents. (Photo by JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is also investigating an issue on a separate Boeing 737-9 Max operated by Alaska Airlines, where a door plug flew off mid-flight in early January.

PORTLAND, OREGON: In this National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) handout, an opening is seen in the fuselage of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 Boeing 737-9 MAX on January 7, 2024 in Portland, Oregon. A door-sized section near the rear of the Boeing 737-9 MAX plane blew off 10 minutes after Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 took off from Portland, Oregon on January 5 on its way to Ontario, California. (Photo by NTSB via Getty Images)

PORTLAND, OREGON: In this National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) handout, NTSB Investigator-in-Charge John Lovell examines the fuselage plug area of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 Boeing 737-9 MAX on January 7, 2024 in Portland, Oregon. A door-sized section near the rear of the Boeing 737-9 MAX plane blew off 10 minutes after Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 took off from Portland, Oregon on January 5 on its way to Ontario, California. (Photo by NTSB via Getty Images)

PORTLAND, OREGON: In this National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) handout, plastic covers the exterior of the fuselage plug area of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 Boeing 737-9 MAX on January 7, 2024 in Portland, Oregon. A door-sized section near the rear of the Boeing 737-9 MAX plane blew off 10 minutes after Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 took off from Portland, Oregon on January 5 on its way to Ontario, California. (Photo by NTSB via Getty Images)

Alaska Airlines touted its 3.7% increase in racial diversity in March 2023 and intends for its representation to consist of 30% “racial diversity” by 2025, according to a report published by the airline.

Boeing exponentially increased its women and racially ethnic hires over the past three years, with the hiring of black employees rising 7.1% and Hispanics surging by 8.1%, according to its DEI report.

Southwest Airlines has stated its goal to reach a 20% threshold in racial and ethnic executive diversity and a 30% threshold for female executives by 2025, according to its DEI report.

The report further said it was 40% racially/ethnically diverse at the end of 2021, with 55% of employees being white, 18.3% being black or African American and 16% being Hispanic or Latino. The workforce was also 42.5% female. White males accounted for 90% of the airline’s pilots as of the end of 2022.

Whopper #4: Diverse companies perform higher, make more money than non-diverse ones

Lemon argued that research shows making companies more diverse through DEI makes them more profitable and successful in decision-making. His team sent one study on “inclusive decision-making” to the Daily Caller by a company called “Cloverpop,” which sells a software decision-making platform to business leaders.

(Upon review, Daily Caller discovered Cloverpop itself apparently does not have a single black person highlighted on its’ “Board of Advisors”).

Studies and research on diverse companies have been disputed or turned out to be inconclusive. McKinsey & Company, an advisor to the world’s leading businesses and institutions, published at least four studies claiming DEI contributed to higher business performances. A new paper published by Econ Journal Watch revisited McKinsey & Company’s study and found it should “not be relied on.”

Econ Journal Watch found flaws with McKinsey & Co.’s study, saying it “rarely defined” the term “diversity” in a precise manner and looked closely at trade firms with an equal number of diverse executives, which suggests that is not an accurate reflection of all U.S. firms.

It said McKinsey & Co. would not provide them with their “detailed datasets” or the names of the firms used in their study, and that it could not find “statistically significant relations” between McKinsey’s measures on ethnic/racial diversity and its impact on sales growth, return on assets, gross margin, total shareholder return and return on equity.

A 2023 review conducted by Dr. Ian Gardner of Bangor University also found McKinsey & Co.’s conclusions to be “unreliable” and unable to be “generalized.”

Lemon’s team did not respond to the Daily Caller’s inquiry on whether he was aware such studies had been called into question or disputed.

BERLIN, GERMANY: SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk arrives on the red carpet for the Axel Springer Award 2020 on December 01, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK: Elon Musk attends Heidi Klum’s 21st Annual Halloween Party presented by Now Screaming x Prime Video and Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur at Sake No Hana at Moxy Lower East Side on October 31, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Heidi Klum)

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA: Tesla CEO Elon Musk leaves the Phillip Burton Federal Building on January 24, 2023 in San Francisco, California. Musk testified at a trial regarding a lawsuit that has investors suing Tesla and Musk over his August 2018 tweets saying he was taking Tesla private with funding that he had secured. The tweet was found to be false and cost shareholders billions of dollars when Tesla’s stock price began to fluctuate wildly allegedly based on the tweet. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Lemon cited questionable studies

Lemon’s team sent the Daily Caller two questionable studies to back up claims about diversity and content moderation on Twitter.

One study, published by Cloverpop, argued that diverse companies were more effective in decision-making and performance. The study is misleading, however, given that it focuses on diversity ranging from age, gender and geographic location. Lemon appeared to emphasize racial diversity throughout the interview as opposed to age and geographic location.

“By comparison, decisions that were both made and executed by gender diverse teams performed 6 percent better than average,” the study states. “Adding age diversity increased performance to 45 percent better than average, and adding geographic diversity boosted performance an incredible 60 percent above average. In other words, highly diverse teams were twice as likely to both make better choices and also deliver results that met or exceeded expectations.”

It turns out, geographic and age diversity contributed a significantly higher amount to the outcomes of the study than gender diversity.

Lemon did not respond to the Daily Caller when asked why he didn’t note that the study didn’t revolve around racial diversity and gender diversity contributed only to a performance of 6% better than average.

Regarding content moderation, Gollust sent the Daily Caller a study published by non-profit group, The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), from Sept. 2023. The study examined 300 “hateful” tweets and reviewed which were removed a week later after being flagged. The study claimed 86% remained up on the site. Ninety of the one hundred accounts posting these said tweets were reportedly still active when the study was published. The posts allegedly promoted “antisemitism, anti-black racism, neo-Nazism, white supremacism, and/or other racism.” The study includes a database of the content they refer to.

CCDH was founded by Imran Ahmed, who served as an advisor to the Labour Party. CCDH previously criticized Twitter, calling it “the primary vector of hate and misinformation” and aimed to sway the platform’s behavior via advertising pressure.

Ahmed staunchly criticized a Supreme Court decision from July 2023, which restricted the government’s role in communicating with social media platforms. Ahmed claimed the ruling would allow social media companies to “undermine public health and facilitate extremism.”

The CCDH created the “Disinformation Dozen” — which included now-Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — alleging they were responsible for 65% of anti-vaccine content on social media. The CCDH selected the twelve individuals based on their large number of followers and anti-vaccine content.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. visits “The Faulkner Focus”at Fox News Channel Studios on June 02, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki appeared to cite the CCDH’s study during a July 2021 press briefing, stating, “there’s about 12 people who are producing 65 percent of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms.”

WASHINGTON, DC: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House April 13, 2022 in Washington, DC. Psaki fielded a wide range of questions, including several on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Facebook’s Vice President of Content Policy Monika Bickert said the CCDH report on the Disinformation Dozen failed to explain how they identified “anti-vaxx” content and criticized the “narrow set” of content analyzed.

WASHINGTON, DC: Monika Bickert, head of global policy management at Facebook, testifies during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing, on September 18, 2019 in Washington, DC. The committee’s hearing is focused on, mass violence, extremism and digital responsibility. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

An AllSides bias rating aligned The Center for Countering Digital Hate with the political left, describing the organization as having “liberal, progressive, or left-wing thought and/or policy agendas.”

The Center for Countering Digital Hate previously released a study showing how “slurs” against black people, women, transgender people and gay men rose significantly on Twitter under Musk. The organization found that “anti-LGBTQ extremists,” such as Libs of TikTok, Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, gained followers since Musk’s takeover.

During the interview, Lemon cited a study published by the Institute of Strategic Dialogue (ISD) finding that anti-semitic tweets doubled from 2022 to 2023 and remained on the platform. The study said it detected 325,739 antisemitic tweets in the 9 months from June 2022 to Feb. 2023, concluding that antisemitic tweets rose 106%.

ISD describes itself as a non-partisan organization.

Musk has repeatedly denied these claims, posting a graph showing that “hate speech” impressions were down since his takeover.

Musk told Lemon that illegal content would be removed from his platform, but he would not promote censorship. Musk accused the ex-CNN host of “desperately” wanting censorship as he urged Musk to take down tweets deemed hateful.

Musk said studies count the number of posts rather than the number of views and that viewership of hateful content decreased “substantially.”