CNN keeps standing by ‘diva’ Don Lemon, insiders can’t figure out what ‘mysterious hold’ he has

Anchor Don Lemon has for decades been known around CNN watercoolers for reportedly being a misogynistic brute with “malicious” tendencies, yet the network continues to keep him on the air, defending him in the wake of scandal after scandal.

According to one veteran media industry executive, no one knows exactly why “CNN keeps Don Lemon around.”

Lemon’s “diva-like behavior” was most recently exposed by Variety, which claimed that for “nearly two decades” the smug host mocked his female co-workers, “flouted rules and cozied up to power,” and even sent “malicious” texts to a colleague from a burner phone.

“Each and every time, he appeared to charm his way out of facing any meaningful consequences,” Variety reports.

Even in the face of such explosive claims, CNN distributed a statement from Lemon’s spokesperson that claimed the report was “riddled with patently false anecdotes” and was “based on unsourced, unsubstantiated, 15-year-old anonymous gossip.”

With Lemon denying the claims, CNN has kept him on “CNN This Morning” as though nothing had happened.

The network’s defense of Lemon, the media insider told Fox News Digital (FND), is a mystery.

“Well before the Variety article appeared, it’s been one of the biggest mysteries in TV news why CNN keeps Don Lemon around,” the source said. “He rates poorly, he is a source of constant embarrassment and his new morning show is an unqualified disaster.”

“Now his long history of degrading women has been laid bare,” the insider, who used to work at CNN continued. “What mysterious hold does he have over his bosses that explains his longevity?”

It’s a question even current CNN employees are reportedly asking.

“There are plenty of people just as talented and popular with viewers that are not such a heavy lift,” one CNN insider told FND.

Another insider said it’s “no secret” that Lemon has done “moronic things.”

When asked if the difficult host was worth CNN’s trouble, the source replied, “I’m honestly not sure.”

When the biggest celebrities in media, sports, and entertainment get into hot water for their actions, they often call upon crisis management expert, Eric Schiffer.

He thinks Lemon’s willingness to take his detractors to court — he’s reportedly suing Variety over its story — could be behind CNN’s desire to defend the host.

“Legal vulnerabilities” aside, Schiffer told FND that Lemon “is on borrowed time unless he can get these reported impulse control issues under control.”

“It will be Don’s behavior that takes himself out or not moving forward. He needs to get a grip on his behavior, or he’ll be ‘Done’ Lemon,” he predicted, adding, “He’s got to align with the expectations of leadership, or he sets himself on fire.”

When Lemon upset not just his co-hosts but a whole bunch of women in America by stupidly suggesting that presidential candidate Nikki Haley was “past her prime,” CNN CEO Chris Licht said he gave Lemon a good talking to and sent him to “formal training” in sensitivity.

“I sat down with Don and had a frank and meaningful conversation,” Licht said. “It is important to me that CNN balances accountability with fostering a culture in which people can own, learn and grow from their mistakes. To that end, Don will return to CNN This Morning on Wednesday.”

But that was hardly the first time Lemon shocked the nation with his tone-deaf take on women’s issues.

Reports Fox News:

In 2014, he infamously asked a Bill Cosby accuser why she didn’t simply bite his penis to prevent an alleged rape. Last September, he asked CNN analyst S.E. Cupp if she was suffering from “mommy brain” after she lost her train of thought during a panel discussion. In December, Lemon clashed with his female “CNN This Morning” co-hosts while arguing male athletes make more money than women because “people are more interested in the men.”


As for Lemon’s gig alongside Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins, one CNN source told Insider that the controversial host hasn’t done the show any favors.

“His behavior has hurt the show since it launched. The stench won’t go away,” the insider said. “Variety is the latest example of that. I assume he’d be out.”

According to CNN critic and DePauw University journalism professor Jeffrey McCall, it’s never a good thing when a journalist becomes the news he’s meant to cover.

“That’s been the case for CNN now for some time with regards to Don Lemon and the trend doesn’t have any sign of letting up,” McCall told FND. “It’s hard to know how accurate the Variety report really is, but that an industry trade publication took on Don Lemon as a subject is news in itself.”

Meanwhile, “CNN This Morning” is tanking in the ratings.

According to Fox News Digital, “The struggling show has dropped 24% of the monthly audience it managed when it launched last year.”


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