April 24, 2023- Doha Madani – Don Lemon was terminated from his anchor role at CNN, he announced Monday.
The news comes after Variety published a story this month on allegations that he mistreated his female colleagues over the course of his career there. And earlier this year, he faced backlash over widely criticized comments he made on-air.
Lemon announced the news on Twitter, saying he was informed by his agent that he was being terminated.
“I am stunned,” Lemon wrote. “After 17 years at CNN I would have thought someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly.”
In a tweet, CNN refuted Lemon’s account as “inaccurate.” The network said he was offered a chance to meet with management but “instead released a statement on Twitter.”
CNN CEO Chris Licht said that the network and Lemon have “parted ways,” according to a memo on Monday.
“Don will forever be a part of the CNN family, and we thank him for his contributions over the past 17 years,” the statement said. “We wish him well and will be cheering him on in his future endeavors.”
Lemon joined CNN in 2006 after anchoring at NBC Chicago and working as a correspondent for NBC News, the “TODAY” show and “NBC Nightly News.”
Lemon first came under fire in February during a segment on “CNN This Morning” in which he remarked that Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, 51, was no longer in her “prime.” The comment was made while discussing a suggestion by Haley that candidates over the age of 75 should be subject to mental competency exams.
“Nikki Haley isn’t in her prime, sorry,” Lemon said. “When a woman is considered to be in her prime — in her 20s, 30s and maybe her 40s.”
When pushed by co-anchor Poppy Harlow, Lemon told her not to “shoot the messenger.”
Licht told employees that Lemon agreed to partake in training following public backlash to his comments. He also told Semafor earlier this month that both CNN and Lemon have “moved on” from the issue.
“Don Lemon is a lightning rod because he really came to prominence during an era where that was celebrated and encouraged in prime time,” Licht said.
But a Variety report published April 5 alleged that Lemon has a long history of questionable behavior toward women.
The report was based on more than a dozen former and current colleagues, Variety said, who described Lemon as openly hostile to women at the network. Most of the sources spoke anonymously to the outlet. The allegations have not independently verified.
A spokesperson for Lemon said in a statement following the report that it was “amazing and disappointing that Variety would be so reckless.”
“The story, which is riddled with patently false anecdotes and no concrete evidence, is entirely based on unsourced, unsubstantiated, 15-year-old anonymous gossip,” the statement said.
CNN referred to statements it made to Variety that Lemon denied the allegations and that the network — regarding a specific allegation from 2008 — was unable to “corroborate the alleged events from 15 years ago.”
Lemon’s termination comes less than two years after former anchor Chris Cuomo was fired from the network. Cuomo, who anchored his own primetime show for CNN, was fired in December 2021 after an attorney general investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against his brother, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The investigation revealed the depth of Cuomo’s role in helping his brother fight the allegations. He had previously disclosed some conversations with his brother but the attorney general report revealed a “greater level of involvement” than CNN was aware of, the network said at the time.
Cuomo filed legal action against CNN seeking $125 million for wrongful termination last year, which is still pending.