CNN has fired host Don Lemon.
Lemon tweeted the news at 11:14 Monday morning, just hours after signing off for the day, in a statement that has since been disputed by the network.
“I was informed this morning by my agent that I have been terminated by CNN,” Lemon wrote. “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. It is clear that there are some larger issues at play.”
CNN confirmed the news in a statement. “CNN and Don Lemon 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,” said CNN CEO Chris Licht. “We wish him well and will be cheering him on in his future endeavors.”
Lemon joined CNN in 2006 and became one of its most recognizable stars. In 2014 he became permanent host of the primetime news show CNN Tonight. As the lone Black anchor in primetime cable news, he earned national attention for holding frank discussions on race and for his coverage (and critique) of the Trump White House. In 2021, the program was rebranded as CNN Tonight with Don Lemon.
But in November 2022, CNN moved Lemon to CNN This Morning, a morning talk show co-hosted by Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins. The show was the brainchild of Chris Licht, who sought to make CNN a “disruptor” in the morning news space. But the program struggled in the ratings, and Lemon came under fire in February for on-air remarks about GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley, who had called for mandatory “competency tests” for politicians over 75 in a speech. While discussing her on Feb. 16, Lemon remarked that Haley “isn’t in her prime.”
“A woman is considered to be in her prime in her 20s and 30s and maybe 40s,” Lemon said to the visible dismay of Harlow and Collins. Harlow questioned what he meant: “Are you talking about childbearing age?” But Lemon dismissed her attempt at clarity. “Don’t shoot the messenger,” Lemon replied, speaking over his co-anchor. “I’m just saying what the facts are. Google it.”
Viewers found the comments distasteful and even sexist; Licht opened his daily 9 a.m. editorial call by saying that Lemon’s remarks were “upsetting, unacceptable and unfair to his co-hosts, and ultimately a huge distraction to the great work of this organization.” Mr. Licht then turned over the call to Lemon, who spoke for six minutes.
“I am sorry,” Mr. Lemon said. “I did not mean to hurt anyone. I did not mean to offend anyone.” He agreed to undergo formal training. But his ouster came just two months after his Feb. 22 return to the show.
This is a breaking news story. Please stay tuned for more updates.