Don Lemon was fired from CNN after 17 years
CNN on Monday fired host Don Lemon after 17 years at the network after airing sexist comments and reports that he had abused women he worked with during his tenure.
The announcement came about an hour after Fox News announced that right-wing primetime host Tucker Carlson was leaving the cable network immediately. It also came a day after NBCUniversal said CEO Jeff Shell left his position due to an “inappropriate relationship with a woman at the company.”
Lemon, who hosted “CNN This Morning,” said his agent notified him of his termination Monday morning. Lemon said he was “stunned” by the news.
“I would have thought someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly,” Lemon said in a Twitter post Monday. “At no point was I given any indication that I would not be able to continue the work I have loved on this network.”
Lemon added that “it’s clear that there are some bigger issues at play,” without giving any further details.
CNN, a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery, later on Monday, Lemons denied the account of his departure. The network called Lemon’s comments “inaccurate” and said he was “offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead posted a statement on Twitter.”
Shortly after Lemon first tweeted that he was being fired, the network’s CEO Chris Licht said the host and CNN had “parted ways.”
“Don will always be a part of the CNN family and we thank him for his contributions over the past 17 years,” the network said in a statement. “We wish him well and will cheer him on in his future endeavours.”
CNN added that the morning show Lemon, which will be co-hosted alongside presenters Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins, would continue. The program has been on the air for almost six months, and the network said it is “committed to its success”.
The announcement comes after Lemon faced backlash in February for his comments about Republican presidential nominee Nikki Haley shortly after she announced a White House bid.
“Nikki Haley is not in her prime, I’m sorry. A woman is considered to be in her 20s and 30s and maybe in her 40s,” Lemon told Haley, 51, on the show.
That comment earned him a rebuke from Licht and calls from suffragettes to fire him.
Lemon has since apologized for his comments about Haley. Licht also announced in late February that Lemon would be undergoing formal training following the sexist comments.
The host’s firing also follows a lengthy Variety story this month alleging Lemon has a history of threatening female employees at CNN and making offensive remarks. The report is based on more than a dozen of Lemon’s former and current colleagues, Variety said. Most of them spoke anonymously to the outlet.
Variety’s report states that among other incidents, Lemon became angry when he was passed over for a reporting assignment in favor of former CNN correspondent Kyra Phillips in 2008. Lemon had been hosting CNN’s “Live From” program at the time.
Phillips received two threatening texts from an unknown sender, and CNN executives eventually traced them back to Lemon, according to Variety.
A Lemon spokesperson criticized the article at the time of its publication, telling NBC News in a statement that it was “amazing and disappointing that Variety would act so recklessly.”
The rep told NBC that Variety’s story “is riddled with patently false anecdotes and lacks any concrete evidence, and is based entirely on unsubstantiated, unfounded, 15-year-old anonymous gossip.”
Lemon has been with CNN since September 2006. He has served as the prime-time host of “Don Lemon Tonight” for more than eight years, according to the network’s website.
Lemon came to CNN after working as a presenter at NBC Chicago. He was also a correspondent for NBC News, the show TODAY and NBC Nightly News.
His termination comes more than a year after CNN fired former prime-time host Chris Cuomo. The network’s decision followed an investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James, which revealed how Cuomo helped his brother and former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo respond to allegations of sexual harassment.
Cuomo took legal action against CNN last year, seeking $125 million for wrongful termination. This case is still pending.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of NBC and CNBC.
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