This Don Lemon Interview With GOP Candidate Was The Last Straw: NYT
The insufferable Don Lemon's long-overdue ousting from CNN ultimately sprang from his discourse-stifling, race-baiting interview of GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, sources tell The New York Times.
Last Wednesday, Ramaswamy appeared on "CNN This Morning," the show Lemon co-hosted with Kaitlin Collins and Poppy Harlow after his September demotion from prime time.
When Ramaswamy said Lemon was doing a "disserrvice to our country by failing to recognize" the enormous progress blacks have made in securing rights since 1865 and 1964, things went downhill quickly, with Lemon sanctimoniously telling Vivek that he wasn't authorized to talk about black history.
You see, while Ramaswamy is a man of color, it isn't the right one. "When you are in black skin and then you live in this country...then you can disagree with me," said Lemon.
Harlow sat silently, alternately watching the spectacle, looking at her phone and elsewhere. Meanwhile, it appeared CNN producers were trying to pull Lemon back from the cliff -- only to receive an on-air scolding. "Please. I cannot keep a thought if you guys are talking in my ear. So hang on one second," he said, ordering the producers to stop talking as he similarly worked to bring Ramaswamy to heel.
If he hadn't already done so, it's safe to say Lemon sealed his fate with one particular line down the stretch -- as he told Ramaswamy it was "insulting" for him to be "sitting there, whatever ethnicity you are, 'splaining to me what it's like to be black in America."
according to the NYT this interview that Don Lemon conducted last week with Vivek Ramaswamy played a role in his firing. Note co-host Poppy Harlow sitting silently while Lemon goes after Vivek. pic.twitter.com/Fjx5eX30wU— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 24, 2023
Citing anonymous sources, the Times reported that the segment "left several CNN leaders exasperated."
Lemon had already been on thin ice, having been demoted from prime time to a morning slot six months ago. Even though he was in network rehabilitation mode, he continued piling on reasons for his CNN masters to eject him altogether.
In December, the crew of "CNN This Morning" reportedly witnessed an unsettling backstage argument between Lemon and Kaitlin Collins, one of his co-hosts. Lemon had apparently scolded her for repeatedly interrupting him.
In February, Lemon said GOP candidate Nikki Haley -- at age 51 -- "isn't in her prime, sorry...A woman is considered to be in her prime in her 20s and 30s and maybe 40s.” When his female co-hosts pushed back, he shut them down by declaring "I’m just saying what the facts are — Google it.” He apologized and submitted to a CNN training program.
That reportedly prompted his female co-hosts to storm off for a "well-timed bathroom break." Sensitive, PC types would have raised a ruckus if a host on any network said what Lemon had said about women -- the fact that it happened on CNN made it all the more noteworthy. The same can be said for his "whatever ethnicity you are" line with Ramaswamy.
It's interesting that, between Haley and Ramaswamy, two GOP candidates played central roles in sweeping Lemon off the screen.
CNN bookers had recently observed that fewer guests wanted to be interviewed by Lemon, just as internal research documented a drop in his popularity.
Barring a personality change, moving Lemon to a morning show was a terrible attempt at salvaging a lost cause. As the Times put it:
"Mr. Lemon imported [his spiky-exchange and pull-no-punches] persona to “CNN This Morning,” but it was an awkward fit for an hour when many viewers — making breakfast and getting children off to school — want easygoing patter, not thundering monologues."
The divorce was already off to a messy start, as Lemon and CNN tweeted contradictory characterizations of how his termination was handled.
Expect more fur to fly: Lemon has retained Hollywood lawyer Bryan Freedman to advise him on his exit from CNN, where his current contract was to continue until 2026. Big-media litigation makes for strange bedfellows: Tucker Carlson has hired Freedman too.
April 24, 2023
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.— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) April 24, 2023