CNN executives had reportedly become “exasperated” with Don Lemon as the longtime host struggled to adapt to his new morning show role after being bumped from his customary evening slot, and a nasty exchange with a 2024 GOP presidential candidate may have been the final straw that led to the network firing him on Monday.
After 17 years at CNN, the “stunned” 57-year-old didn’t take his termination well, taking to social media to lash out at management whom he claimed didn’t have the “decency to tell me directly,” remarks that the network disputed, saying that it was “inaccurate” and that instead of meeting with them, he chose to vent on Twitter.
With the embittered Lemon now left jobless and scheming out his next moves, some believe that the notoriously litigious ex-anchor will be lawyering up based on his remark about “larger issues at play” in his Monday morning Twitter missive.
— Don Lemon (@donlemon) April 24, 2023
One insider who interpreted the volatile Lemon’s tone as an indication that he will be suing his former employer spoke to the Daily Mail, saying that “‘It’s unclear why he was fired now” and that the “fireable behavior happened before today.”
“It’ll be interesting to see what he does next. What does he mean by ‘larger forces at play’?” the source told the outlet. “Sounds to me like he’s going to sue.”
CUNY Law Professor Rick Rossein told The Root, “There’s no doubt there will be a lawsuit. And probably a likely settlement.”
“Certainly his lawyers are gonna be searching for some type of violation of both the state and federal civil rights law, which now includes sexual orientation discrimination,” said Rossein, who is an expert in employment and anti-discrimination law.
“In a clear sign of acrimony, Mr. Lemon has retained the aggressive Hollywood litigator Bryan Freedman to handle his exit. His contract with CNN runs through 2026, according to two people with direct knowledge of his deal,” The New York Times reported.
According to reports, it was Lemon’s completely unnecessary racial meltdown during an exchange with author and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, a Republican White House hopeful, that may have been the final straw for CNN bosses.
Instead of just taking the L when he was outdueled in a battle of intellectual firepower by Ramaswamy, Lemon threw down the race card, telling the candidate, “When you are in black skin and you live in this country, then you can disagree with me.”
“When you have black skin and you live in this country, then you can disagree with me.” @DonLemon, we should be able to have open debate no matter our skin color. It’s time to start talking openly again. All of us.
— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) April 19, 2023
“The incident left several CNN leaders exasperated,” according to the New York Times which also reported that “In recent weeks, CNN’s bookers had discovered that some guests did not want to appear on the air with Mr. Lemon,” one of those guests may have been White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre who reportedly “refused” to be interviewed by the volatile host.
Ramaswamy, who has been dubbed the “CEO of Anti-Woke Inc.” reacted to Lemon’s ouster, telling Fox News Digital that it’s clear” that the exchange between them “played in role” in the termination of the host who, in addition to his inflammatory racial commentary, also has cultivated quite a reputation for being a misogynist.
“I think that any network that wants to foster open debate should embrace that principle by not restricting what someone can say or saying what someone can say is restricted based on their skin color. And I think they made the right decision here,” Ramaswamy told Fox News Digital.
Hours after he was sacked, Lemon, who was wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses, was spotted browsing for iPhones in a New York City Apple store along with his gay fiancé Tim Malone.
(Images/Screengrab: The Daily Mail)
Prior to the dust-up with Ramaswamy, Lemon had compiled an impressive history of problematic incidents that may have also contributed to his being given the boot, most recently his sexist remarks about former South Carolina governor, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley that so angered “CNN This Morning” co-host Poppy Harlow, that she stormed off the set.
He also insulted conservative commentator SE Cupp who he suggested was having “mommy brain” last year and in 2014, suggested that one of Bill Cosby’s rape victims should have resisted oral sex by chomping down on his penis. Lemon’s antics were further detailed in a damning recent expose by the showbiz website Variety which described bullying and sexist behavior toward former colleagues including Nancy Grace, Kyra Phillips, and Soledad O’Brien.
Since he was dumped from his customary primetime show, Lemon’s presence has been a ratings drain on the network’s showcase morning show which he has clearly struggled to adapt to.
“’CNN This Morning’” was a marquee initiative of Mr. Licht,” the New York Times reported, referring to new CNN boss Chris Licht who replaced disgraced former network head Jeff Zucker last year.
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