CNN severs ties with Don Lemon: A controversial history

Kerem Gülen
Apr 25, 2023
Updated • Apr 25, 2023

On Monday, CNN parted ways with Don Lemon, a well-known and vocal television personality, who had been associated with the network for 17 years. This decision was taken after Lemon's involvement in multiple scandals and his controversial on-air comments.

Don Lemon's controversial track record

In September 2006, Don Lemon joined CNN as a correspondent, having previously worked in local news. He hosted several weekend and weekday shows before eventually becoming a part of CNN's primetime lineup. In July 2013, Lemon faced criticism for supporting former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly's opinion that Black Americans should not use the N-word or wear baggy pants. This remark came under scrutiny as Lemon himself is Black. Later in April 2014, Lemon was given the opportunity to host CNN's primetime show, which was initially named CNN Tonight and was later renamed as Don Lemon Tonight.

On August 13, 2019, Don Lemon was accused of assaulting a bartender at a bar in Sag Harbor, New York, in 2018. The bartender, Dustin Hice, had filed a lawsuit against Lemon, which was later dropped when Hice stated that his recollection of that night had changed.

On September 7, 2022, Don Lemon faced backlash for asking S.E. Cupp, a political commentator at CNN, if she was experiencing "mommy brain" and losing her "train of thought" on air.

Don Lemon was reassigned from his primetime show to co-host CNN This Morning with Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins on November 1, 2022. The move was made by Chris Licht, the new CEO of CNN, and Lemon referred to it as a "promotion." However, there were speculations that the move was an attempt to decrease political commentary on the network.

Don Lemon faced severe backlash for making sexist comments on air regarding the gender pay gap in professional sports on December 1, 2022. He claimed that male players in the U.S. soccer team earn more than female players because people are more interested in watching men play. Lemon also defended himself by saying that he is not inherently sexist as he grew up in a house with women.

On February 2, 2023, sources informed the New York Post that Don Lemon had engaged in repeated arguments and even screamed at his co-host Kaitlan Collins off-air. A producer had to intervene and ask him to take a day to "cool off." According to People, this was not an isolated incident and there were at least three similar incidents.

Image credit: Holly Honderich/BBC News

Then, Don Lemon was suspended from CNN This Morning after he made derogatory comments about 2024 GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley, implying that she was no longer in her prime as a woman in her 50s on February 16, 2023. This comment was met with severe criticism, including from Haley herself, who had previously sold merchandise with the "past my prime" logo. Lemon later apologized, calling his remarks "inartful and irrelevant" and emphasizing that a woman's age does not define her personally or professionally.

On April 5, 2023, a report by Variety made serious allegations against Don Lemon. According to the report, Lemon had repeatedly clashed with female colleagues such as Soledad O'Brien and Nancy Grace. The report also claimed that Lemon had torn up notes inside Kyra Phillips' desk when she was assigned a reporting job in Iraq instead of him and subsequently texted her a threatening message. A CNN spokesperson told Variety that Lemon had denied these allegations, and Lemon's representative stated that the report was filled with "patently false anecdotes and no concrete evidence."

The Variety report also stated that Lemon had complained to executives in July 2009 after not receiving as much airtime as his colleague Anderson Cooper at Michael Jackson's memorial service in Los Angeles. This complaint was part of a series of what was described as "diva-like behavior" that led to Lemon being reprimanded by a company executive.

On April 19, 2023, Don Lemon engaged in an on-air argument with GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, where he accused him of "splaining" Black history. According to the New York Times, this exchange irritated CNN executives.

Don Lemon took to Twitter to announce that he had been terminated by CNN after being associated with the network for 17 years on April 24, 2023. He expressed his shock and criticized CNN's management for not having the decency to inform him directly. However, CNN later tweeted that Lemon had been given an opportunity to meet with management and that his statement was inaccurate.

CNN’s anchorman struggle

Don Lemon's termination from CNN has occurred less than two years after the network fired another high-profile anchor, Chris Cuomo. Cuomo, who hosted his own primetime show, was dismissed from the network in December 2021 following an investigation by the attorney general into allegations of sexual misconduct against his brother, former Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The investigation showed that Chris Cuomo had played a more significant role in assisting his brother than CNN had previously been aware of, although he had previously disclosed some of their conversations. At the time of Cuomo's firing, CNN stated that the attorney general's report had uncovered a "greater level of involvement" on his part.

Chris Cuomo filed a lawsuit against CNN last year, seeking $125 million for wrongful termination, which is still pending.


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  1. Anonymous said on April 26, 2023 at 3:41 pm

    This big capitalist media are co-responsible of so many horrible crimes of their regime that it’s always irritating to see people accused of such stupid things instead, which are usually not even the true reasons why they are evicted. This happens to politicians a lot too.

    “Chris Cuomo filed a lawsuit against CNN last year, seeking $125 million for wrongful termination”

    How much does this mean that those are paid ordinarily ? It’s sure they aren’t going to be so investigative as a counter-power when there is so much money to be lost. Well in that case he’ll be fine.

    “Then, Don Lemon was suspended from CNN This Morning after he made derogatory comments about 2024 GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley, implying that she was no longer in her prime as a woman in her 50s on February 16, 2023.”

    Is’nt Robinette Biden 80 year old ?

    1. Anonymous said on April 26, 2023 at 5:06 pm

      Reading is essential.

      Biden is a man, Haley is a woman. The reason Lemon got in trouble is he, “implied that SHE was no longer in her prime as a WOMAN in HER 50s on February 16, 2023.”

  2. Anonymous said on April 25, 2023 at 7:02 pm

    Ugh. Stop posting crap like this on this site.
    We DONT come here for this!

  3. boris said on April 25, 2023 at 6:45 pm

    He was not very smart either. I remember when he asked if missing plane could disappear through a black hole.

    1. Anonymous said on April 26, 2023 at 1:40 pm

      No wonder he got fired, normally you’d only hear that kind of conspiracy stuff on Fox News or Ancient Aliens

  4. John said on April 25, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    I think most just want the news provide as unbiased as possible. I always felt Lemon was less a journalist and more an activist.
    Need more people in news who simply report it.

    1. ShintoPlasm said on April 26, 2023 at 1:49 pm

      Whatever this Lemon guy is or was, please remember that many of this site’s visitors are not from the US. We couldn’t give two hoots about some random CNN talking head, and news about his career development has no place on a tech (?) website

    2. Jek they/them Porkins said on April 25, 2023 at 11:05 pm

      While I agree with you that news should be unbiased, or at least close to unbiased as humanly possible, I think people that think this way are in the minority.

      I think very few people that watch cable news really wants unbiased news. They only want news that reinforce what they already believe, which is why commentators have replaced journalists at all 3 major cable news channels in the US.

      I think deep down people like to be in their echo chambers and only told things they want to hear and agree with their world view. Hearing otherwise would only cause significant cognitive dissonance for them.

      A good example is people who rejoice over the firing of Don Lemon stay quiet about Tucker Carlson and the 800 million dollar Fox/Dominion settlement, and people who rejoice over Tucker Carlson’s firing stay quiet about Don Lemon.

  5. ShintoPlasm said on April 25, 2023 at 4:11 pm

    Enough of this rubbish already!

  6. Jody Thornton said on April 25, 2023 at 3:24 pm

    Agreed, garbage like this should not be on ghacks. It only attracts the trolls and the crazies.

  7. Anonymous said on April 25, 2023 at 3:20 pm

    LOL… this site has turned to trash.. I feel sorry for Martin and the legacy of gHacks.

  8. Oxa said on April 25, 2023 at 2:30 pm

    The headline I’d like to see:
    “ severs ties with Kerem Gülen: A controversial history”

    I’m with D K. Enough of this cruft!

  9. D K said on April 25, 2023 at 2:10 pm

    Why are such articles being posted?

    How is this Hacks or Technology related?

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