MSNBC’s Al Sharpton ‘Stunned’ by Don Lemon’s CNN Firing, Urges ‘Full Explanation’

“We cannot afford to silence his voice,” Sharpton said in a statement

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Al Sharpton, the MSNBC show host and longtime political activist, has urged CNN to “fully explain” their reasoning for firing Don Lemon.

Sharpton, who is also the founder and president of the National Action Network, said in a joint statement with National Urban League president and CEO Marc Morial that Lemon’s comment that there were larger forces behind the move should be further parsed by the network.

“We are completely stunned at the termination of Don Lemon,” the statement said. “Throughout his career, Don has been a superb journalist who was very open to the civil rights community on issues others wouldn’t touch,” the statement reads. “Don’s voice has been invaluable to the conversation of how we become a more just nation. With the health of our democracy undergoing perhaps its greatest test, we cannot afford to silence his voice.

“We would like to know what he alludes to when he said there are greater things at play, which is why we urge for a full explanation as to why he was let go in such a fashion,” the statement concluded.

The anchor was let go Monday after 17 years with CNN. In a statement Lemon posted online, he also said he was “stunned” at the news of his firing. The network countered his claim of larger issues at play in their own statement.

“Don Lemon’s statement about this morning’s events is inaccurate,” the network said. “He was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter.”

“CNN and Don have parted ways,” CEO Chris Licht wrote in a memo announcing the move. “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.”