Don Lemon says he has been fired by CNN: ‘I am stunned’
The TV news anchor Don Lemon said on Monday he had been fired from CNN – the news breaking shortly after word of another major US media departure, that of Tucker Carlson from Fox News.
“I was informed this morning by my agent that I have been terminated by CNN,” Lemon, 57, wrote on Twitter not long after appearing on CNN This Morning, the revamped show he co-hosted with Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins.
“I am stunned. 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.”
CNN did not say why Lemon had left but it did dispute his version of events.
It said: “Don Lemon’s statement about this morning’s events is inaccurate. He was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter.”
In a separate statement, the chairman of CNN, Chris Licht, said: “CNN and Don have parted ways. Don will forever be a part of the CNN family, and we thank him for his contributions over the past 17 years. We wish him well and will be cheering him on in his future endeavors.”
Licht also said CNN This Morning, which has struggled for ratings, “has been on air for nearly six months and we are committed to its success”.
In February, Lemon was rebuked by Licht and briefly taken off-air over televised remarks about Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor now running for the Republican presidential nomination.
Speaking to Harlow and Collins about Haley’s call for mental competency tests for ageing politicians, Lemon said Haley “isn’t in her prime, sorry”, adding: “A woman is considered to be in her prime in her 20s and 30s and maybe 40s.”
Haley is 51.
In a recording obtained by the New York Times, Licht told staffers that Lemon’s remarks were “upsetting, unacceptable and unfair to his co-hosts, and ultimately a huge distraction to the great work of this organisation”.
Lemon apologised, saying, according to CNN: “I’m sorry that I said it. And I certainly see why people found it completely misguided.”
He added: “The people I’m closest to in this organization are women.”
Haley told Fox News: “I have always made the liberals’ heads explode. They can’t stand the fact that a minority, conservative, female would not be on the Democratic side.
“He made that comment. I wasn’t sitting there saying sexist middle-aged CNN anchors need to have mental competency tests, although he may have just proven that point.”
Announcing his firing on Monday, Lemon said: “It is clear that there are some larger issues at play.
“With that said, I want to thank my colleagues and the many teams I have worked with for an incredible run. They are the most talented journalists in the business and I wish them all the best.” The Guardian