CNN anchor Don Lemon has been let go by the network, ending his 17-year tenure as a star anchor. CNN said in a statement that it was parting ways with Mr. Lemon, who was a fixture of the network’s prime-time lineup before he became a morning show co-host. “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,” CNN said in a statement. The network added that a morning show which Lemon co-hosted with Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins would continue. “‘CNN This Morning’ has been on air for nearly six months, and we are committed to its success,” CNN said.
Mr. Lemon, 57, appeared on air on Monday morning as normal. However, the next moment he took to Twitter to announce the news, expressing his disappointment over not being informed directly. “I was informed this morning by my agent that I have been terminated by CNN. 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,” he wrote.
Don Lemon was one of CNN’s most recognizable stars who had a reputation as a fiery political commentator during his eight years as a prime-time anchor. But inside the network, he began to lose support after he made remarks in February about women and aging that were widely perceived to be sexist. The incident generated a national uproar and a rare public rebuke from CNN’s chairman, Chris Licht.
Mr. Lemon had asserted on-air that Nikki Haley, the 51-year-old Republican presidential candidate, “isn’t in her prime, sorry,” adding, “A woman is considered to be in her prime in her 20s and 30s and maybe 40s.” He dismissed the objections of his female co-hosts by responding, “I’m just saying what the facts are — Google it.” He later apologized to the CNN newsroom and agreed to a corporate training program to address his on-air behavior.
Allies of Mr. Lemon had hoped he would turn the page from the incident. But executives at CNN gradually concluded that his future at CNN had become untenable, according to two people who spoke on condition of anonymity because the internal discussions were sensitive. In recent weeks, CNN’s bookers had discovered that some guests did not want to appear on-air with Mr. Lemon, and research on the morning show reviewed by CNN executives found that his popularity with audiences had fallen, one of the people said.
The incident in February and subsequent events have ended a great career for Mr. Lemon at CNN, who just seven months ago was happily ensconced in a prime-time anchor chair. His long-running 10 p.m. program, “Don Lemon Tonight,” drew fans for his spiky exchanges and pull-no-punches commentary on politics and the Trump White House. However, Mr. Lemon imported that persona to “CNN This Morning,” but it was an awkward fit for an hour when many viewers — making breakfast and getting children off to school — want easygoing patter, not thundering monologues.
Tensions also emerged between Mr. Lemon and one of his co-anchors, Ms. Collins. In December, “CNN This Morning” crew members were rattled after a backstage incident where Mr. Lemon accused Ms. Collins of interrupting him too often.
When Lemon joined CNN in 2003, he worked as a correspondent covering a range of stories, including the 2008 election and both of Barack Obama’s inaugurations. He then spent three years as a weekend anchor before moving to prime time in 2010 as the host of “CNN Tonight.” Lemon was also one of the few Black anchors to have his own show on CNN.
Despite the controversy surrounding Don Lemon’s departure, his colleagues and fans have taken to social media to post heartfelt messages. Jake Tapper, one of CNN’s most popular anchors, praised Lemon for being an “important voice in American journalism” and said he was “heartbroken” by the news. He added, “Don, whatever is next for you, I know you will continue to be an essential and brave voice for the marginalized and the voiceless.”
The New York Times reported that CNN’s executives are in the process of developing new programming and are looking to expand into documentary-style content production. This move is part of the network’s strategy to broaden its appeal and compete with other cable news rivals.
CNN has not announced who will replace Lemon on the morning show, but the future of the show remains uncertain as the network continues to grapple with a changing media landscape.
In conclusion, Don Lemon’s departure from CNN marks the end of a controversial and celebrated career in American journalism. It remains to be seen what the future holds for Mr. Lemon, but many of his fans and colleagues will be eagerly watching and cheering him on in his next endeavor.