Don Lemon Fired from CNN, Anchor Terminated Following Hostile Workplace Allegations

The news comes after accusations of sexist behavior from the longtime anchor at the network.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 12: Don Lemon attends The 15th Annual CNN Heroes: All-Star Tribute at American Museum of Natural History on December 12, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Dominik Bindl/Getty Images)
Don Lemon
Photo by Dominik Bindl/Getty Images

Less than a month after accusations of harassment and hostile workplace behavior broke against him, Don Lemon has been terminated from CNN.

The longtime anchor, who joined the cable news company in 2006 and most recently co-hosted the daytime talk show “CNN This Morning,” announced the news Monday. In a statement posted on Twitter, Lemon said he learned the news from his agent, and was not directly informed by CNN’s management.

“I was informed this morning by my agent that I have been terminated from CNN,” Lemon wrote on Twitter. “After 17 years at CNN I would have thought someone at 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. With that said, I want to thank my colleagues and the many teams I have worked with for an incredible run. They are the most talented journalists in the business, and I wish them the best.”

CNN’s official communications team Twitter account disputed Lemon’s statement regarding his termination in a tweet that morning, writing that: “Don Lemon’s statement about this morning’s events is inaccurate. He was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter.” Also on Twitter, CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy posted an internal memo from CEO Chris Licht confirming that the company has “parted ways” with Lemon.

“Don will forever be a part of the CNN family, and we thank him for his contributions over the past 17 years,” Licht wrote. “We wish him well and will be cheering him on in his future endeavors.” In the memo, Licht also wrote that the channel remains “committed” to the success of “CNN This Morning,” which premiered last November and saw Lemon co-host with Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins.

One of CNN’s most recognizable talents, Lemon rose to fame as the host of the primetime commentary program “CNN Tonight,” which he hosted from 2014 until October of last year. But his pivot to daytime as one of the faces of “CNN This Morning” got off to a rocky start, and his tenure on the show ultimately opened a pandora’s box that put him at the center of controversy.

In February, during a discussion about Nikki Haley’s presidential campaign announcement, Lemon made sexist comments saying that the former South Carolina governor “isn’t in her prime,” and that women on a whole are “considered to be in [their] prime in [their] 20s and 30s and maybe 40s.” The online backlash to Lemon’s statements was immediate, and he missed two “CNN This Morning” shows in addition to apologizing during a staff wide call.

Earlier this month, after the Haley incident had largely faded, Variety published a report featuring statements from over a dozen current and former staffers alleging Lemon had a pattern of unprofessional and sexist behavior towards female coworkers. The story alleged that Lemon sent threatening texts to his “Live From” co-host Kyra Phillips in 2008, after she received an appointment to report from Iraq that he desired. Other incidents alleged in the story include mocking a female producer as “fat,” claiming that “Black in America” host Soledad O’Brien wasn’t Black during an editorial call, dating a younger junior staffer during his first few years at the network, and a pattern of unprofessional behavior.

A spokesperson for Lemon released a statement to The Wrap denying the story, claiming it “is riddled with patently false anecdotes and no concrete evidence” and “is entirely based on unsourced, unsubstantiated, 15-year-old anonymous gossip.” CNN, in statements to Variety, said that Lemon denied most of the allegations.

Lemon’s departure from CNN makes Monday one of the more dramatic days in recent memory for cable news; news of his exit came less than an hour after Fox News released a statement confirming that Tucker Carlson, one of their biggest talents, has departed from the conservative-leaning network.

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