Don Lemon has been fired by CNN after 17 years at the network, just months into his new gig as a morning show host.
“I was informed this morning by my agent that I have been terminated by CNN,” Lemon posted to his social media Monday. “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.”
The anchor concluded by saying “it is clear that there are some larger issues at play” and proceeded thank his colleagues and the many teams he have worked with for an “incredible run.”
CNN in turn released a statement saying it did reach out to Lemon.
“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.”
The statement followed an internal memo from CEO Chris Licht, who pointing out that “CNN This Morning,” the morning show that Lemon anchored alongside Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins, has been on the air for nearly six months and the network is “committed to its success.”
“CNN and Don have parted ways,” Licht wrote in the memo. “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.”
A person with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap that the decision was not personal or related to any one thing – but was business-focused, and that internal research showed that Lemon was “not working” with CNN’s female-skewing audience in the morning.
The news comes just over two months after Lemon made waves with a controversial comment that remarked that Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley “is not in her prime,” adding that a woman is “said to be in her prime in her 20s, 30s and maybe 40s.”
The remark, which reportedly made his co-anchors furious, led Licht to denounce the comments in a staff-wide meeting, saying “his remarks were upsetting, unacceptable and unfair to his co-hosts, and ultimately a huge distraction to the great work of this organization.” Lemon later apologized for the comments and was announced to resume “CNN This Morning” co-hosting duties the next week after participating in “formal training.”
Earlier this month, Variety published a report that unveiled allegations from the cable news anchor’s sprawling career, including accusations of misogyny, mocking female staffers and reckless “diva-like” behavior — accusations that Lemon vehemently denied.
“The story, which is riddled with patently false anecdotes and no concrete evidence, is entirely based on unsourced, unsubstantiated, 15-year-old anonymous gossip,” a spokesperson for Lemon told TheWrap at the time. “It’s amazing and disappointing that Variety would be so reckless.”
And the New York Times reported that this combative exchange with conservative politician Vivek Ramaswamy also contributed to the ultimate decision to terminate Lemon.
In September 2022, CNN announced that Lemon would shift from his primetime gig hosting “Don Lemon Tonight” after an eight-year run to co-host the network’s reimagined morning show alongside Collins and Harlow in a move Lemon insisted was a promotion.
The “CNN This Morning” reboot, which succeeded “New Day’s” John Berman and Brianna Keilar, was undoubtably part of Licht’s goal to reimagine the morning slot to compete more directly with “Morning Joe,” a show Licht co-created in 2007 when he was at MSNBC.
Sharon Waxman contributed reporting to this story.