Don Lemon Allegedly Threatened to Rally Black Leaders in His Defense Amidst Fears of Firing, Insider Claims
Former CNN anchor Don Lemon reportedly expressed concerns about his job security and purportedly informed allies that influential Black leaders would come to his defense if he were let go from the network. These claims have surfaced in a recent report, shedding light on the behind-the-scenes dynamics at CNN.
According to RadarOnline.com, there were indications that Chris Licht, a key figure at CNN, sought to make his mark on the network. As part of this endeavor, viewers witnessed Lemon bid farewell to his primetime show in October after more than eight years, paving the way for him to co-host a revamped morning show alongside Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins.
However, the transition to the new show was not without its challenges. Tim Alberta, who spent considerable time with Licht and spoke with several staffers, noted in an article published in The Atlantic that the co-hosts had difficulty finding their rhythm, partly due to their limited practice together. Licht’s intention was to inject some freshness into CNN’s lineup by partnering Lemon, a vocal, gay, Black southerner, with two hard-hitting female news reporters. Yet, it seemed that Licht himself was not enjoying the process.
Drama ensued in February when Lemon made a comment about Nikki Haley, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, suggesting that she was not in her prime. Lemon later apologized for his remark, both publicly and privately. The article mentioned that Lemon had been generating discomfort in the control room with his impromptu opinions, annoying Harlow and Collins by forcefully inserting himself into every segment, and frustrating Licht by providing unnecessary commentary that went against explicit instructions.
Licht’s original vision for the morning show was to maintain a light atmosphere, considering that viewers might be commuting or unable to fully engage with in-depth reports. He entrusted Lemon to lead, expected Harlow to provide stability, and hoped that Collins could adapt quickly. However, as time progressed and segments faltered, including one focused on Kanye West’s anti-Semitic remarks, the dynamic shifted.
The article claimed that Licht’s patience with Lemon began to dwindle, citing reasons such as Lemon’s fashion choices, excessive ad-libbing, and strong opinions. Alberta asserted that these developments should not have come as a surprise.
Under mounting pressure from higher-level executives to part ways with Lemon, Licht faced a dilemma of setting a precedent that could be perceived as severe. Meanwhile, in an attempt to control the damage following the Nikki Haley incident, Lemon proposed a prime-time special on misogyny featuring a roundtable of women. However, Licht rejected the idea.
According to a source close to Licht, Lemon allegedly started informing allies that prominent Black leaders such as Al Sharpton and Ben Crump were in his corner and would come to his defense if he were fired. This purported move was seen as an attempt to turn Lemon’s departure into a “referendum on CNN’s whiteness.” Lemon’s representative denied these claims and accused Licht’s team of spreading rumors to divert attention from Licht’s own alleged failures at CNN.
As this story unfolds, it sheds light on the power dynamics, challenges, and tensions within CNN’s programming decisions, underscoring the complexities of maintaining a cohesive and successful team in the fast-paced world of television news.