Cable television news network CNN has fired longtime host Don Lemon, the news anchor says in a post on Twitter, adding that he was “stunned” by the step and he was not directly informed of the termination by the network.
“I was informed this morning by my agent that I have been terminated by CNN. I am stunned,” Lemon said on Monday.
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“After 17 years at CNN, I would have thought that someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly. At no time was I ever given any indication that I would not be able to continue to do the work I have loved at the network,” he wrote.
In a statement of its own, CNN said the network and Lemon had parted ways. It added that Lemon was offered a chance to meet with the network’s management but he instead released a statement on his personal Twitter account. The network described Lemon’s version of events as “inaccurate”.
“Don will forever be a part of the CNN family, and we thank him for his contributions over the past 17 years,” CNN’s top boss, Chris Licht, said in a memo to staff. “We wish him well and will be cheering him on in his future endeavors.”
Neither statement gave a reason for Lemon’s departure.
Lemon joined CNN in 2006. He hosted the prime-time show “Don Lemon Tonight” for more than eight years and gained prominence during the presidency of Donald Trump for his commentary on the former Republican president, whom he called a “racist”.
— Don Lemon (@donlemon) April 24, 2023
‘A great day for women everywhere’
He sparked another controversy during a February discussion on CNN This Morning with co-hosts Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins about the ages of politicians. He said the 51-year-old presidential candidate and former US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley was not “in her prime”. A woman, he said, was considered in her prime “in her 20s, 30s and maybe her 40s”.
Harlow challenged Lemon, trying to clarify what he was referencing: “I think we need to qualify. Are you talking about prime for childbearing, or are you talking about prime for being president?”
“Don’t shoot the messenger; I’m just saying what the facts are,” Lemon responded.
Lemon issued a statement the same day saying he regretted his “inartful and irrelevant” comments. He was subsequently absent from the show for three days, returning the following week with a tweeted apology but no mention of the episode on air.
Haley, who had criticised Lemon’s statements as sexist and used the incident for fundraising in February, took to Twitter on Monday to call Lemon’s ouster “a great day for women everywhere.”
Lemon also had a tense on-air interview last week with another Republican presidential contender, Vivek Ramaswamy, in which Lemon, who is Black, disputed Ramaswamy’s interpretation of racial history.
Licht said the show will continue, and CNN was “committed to its success”. The show has been on the air for nearly six months.
Trump welcomed Lemon’s departure from CNN. On his Truth Social platform, the former president said: “My only question is, WHAT TOOK THEM SO LONG?”