Colbert made the comments on his show Thursday night, questioning Lemon’s choice to dress so casually.
“I believe a great man once said, ‘What the f*** is that?’” the comedian said while displaying an image of Lemon doing the broadcast Thursday.
“I know they want to add some comedy to CNN, and this is hilarious, but how do you report the news in that outfit? How do you actually talk about tragedy wearing that, because what could be more tragic than that look he had this morning?” he continued, per The Daily Mail.
Colbert next compared Lemon’s outfit to something worn by “a high school track teacher who went for a run but then got a little hungry and stopped at a restaurant.”
“But it was too nice of a restaurant and they said, ‘Excuse me sir, you have to wear a jacket.’ So then he stole a jacket from Guys and Dolls,” Colbert quipped before saying, “Don, you’ve got a lot to answer for.”
Lemon reacted with surprise while discussing the “Late Show” clip with co-host Kaitlan Collins on “CNN This Morning” the next day.
He described the shirt in question as “a sweater that had a hood on it.”
The CNN host said of Colbert’s segment, “I didn’t expect that reaction. For me, it was sort of like a Rorschach test about wearing that outfit. I don’t know if I want to get into it because I was actually really surprised by it.”
“Right now, people aren’t wearing suits as much,” he continued, showing photos of himself in different colored suits. “Lots has changed since the pandemic, right? So I just found it interesting that there was such a reaction, because online I got a lot of negative reaction.”
Next, Lemon compared his outfit choice to other mainstream figures who were questioned about their fashion sense.
“I think if Barack Obama can get criticized for a tan suit, if Volodymyr Zelensky can fight a war in a hoodie, if Trayvon Martin can start a revolution in a hoodie, then Don Lemon can tell the news in a hooded sweater,” he continued.
“I think John Fetterman wears a hoodie on Capitol Hill,” Collins replied.
“If John Fetterman can become a senator in a hoodie, then Don Lemon can tell the news in a hoodie,” Lemon agreed.
When Collins asked if Lemon would keep wearing hoodies despite the backlash, he replied, “Of course.”
“I just want to say that a lot has changed. I understand more how you feel when women talk about [how] they talk about women’s skirts and women’s outfits and their hair and their makeup or whatever. Women get scrutinized,” he said of the incident. “Men never get scrutinized.”