CNN has fired Don Lemon in the wake of the controversial liberal talk show host’s disparaging remarks about the race and age of GOP presidential candidates Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley.
As the left-leaning cable news network reported, Monday’s announcement came without explanation and “astonished the media industry.” News of Lemon’s departure followed word that conservative host Tucker Carlson and Fox News had parted ways.
“Don will forever be a part of the CNN family, and we thank him for his contributions over the past 17 years,” said CNN CEO Chris Licht in a memo to staff. “We wish him well and will be cheering him on in his future endeavors.”
Lemon said he was “stunned” by his dismissal.
— Don Lemon (@donlemon) April 24, 2023
Perhaps his latest offenses were a bridge too far for CNN executives — who saw the ratings on the wall.
The black cable news host was seen by some on the left as a hero for his constant characterizations of conservatives — particularly former President Donald Trump — as racist, sexists, homophobes and xenophobes, as he presented the “news” through a prism of wokeness.
But Lemon has found himself a casualty of his own intolerance over his career, including his latest attacks on GOP presidential candidates Haley and Ramaswamy.
In February on CNN This Morning, Lemon declared Haley, 51, “was not in her prime.” The New York Post reported Lemon’s co-host, Poppy Harlow, stormed off the set in disgust, and long-time host Megyn Kelly on her podcast mused, “Does someone have to grab a boob for us to count?”
Lemon received a three-day suspension for his remarks.
Last week, during a debate on his show with Ramaswamy about the Civil War and gun rights, Lemon seemed to disparage the Ohio entrepreneur’s ancestry.
“I think it’s insulting that you are sitting here whatever ethnicity you are ‘splaining to me about what it’s like to be black in America,” Lemon furiously shot back at the second-generation Indian-American for daring to talk about African-American issues.
Lemon took exception to Ramaswamy’s statement of the facts during the anti-woke crusader’s speech earlier this month to the National Rifle Association.
“We fought a civil war in this country to give black Americans the equal protection under the law that we failed to secure them in 1776,” Ramaswamy told attendees at the NRA annual convention. “But then, you want to know what happened? Southern states passed anti-gun laws that stopped black people from owning guns; the Democrat Party, then as in now, wanted to put them back in chains.”
Ramaswamy, addressed his rhetorical battle with Lemon at a campaign event Sunday in Des Moines, IA (although the GOP presidential candidate did not reference Lemon’s snide comments about his “ethnicity.”)
“He said I couldn’t speak about [post-Civil War history] without the experience of living in black skin and as a black man living in America. I reject that,” Ramaswamy told veterans at a local VFW post. “I think we should be able to talk about these issues in the open.”
During their heated discussion, Lemon told Ramaswamy, “When you are in black skin, and you live in this country, then you can disagree with me.”
The New York Times reported Lemon’s exchange with Ramaswamy, which “left several CNN leaders exasperated,” played a role in his firing.
It would seem CNN executives are exasperated by Lemon’s ratings, too.
As The New York Post reported, Lemon’s three-day vacation from the show following his “prime” comments, bolstered viewership for the CNN morning show by 5 percent.
CNN’s ratings in general have been dismal as executives attempt to right the listing network ship.
CNN CEO Chris Licht’s “biggest programming move to date, a revamp of ‘CNN This Morning,’ hasn’t borne fruit in the ratings and has been beset by bad publicity, including co-host Don Lemon’s ham-fisted reference to a woman’s prime years,” AP reported late last month.
Lemon’s move to the morning show was a demotion of sorts from Don Lemon Tonight, the CNN primetime show he hosted for more than eight years.
In early February, not long before his comments about Haley’s age, the New York Post reported, Lemon repeatedly screamed at one of his co-hosts off-air. A producer advised him to take a day to “cool off.” The incident followed other reported blow-ups.
Haley has turned Lemon’s costly faux pas into campaign gold. Her campaign has been pitching a “Past My Prime?” koozie — for a minimum $7 campaign donation.>
On Monday, the Haley campaign tweeted, “A great day for women everywhere. Now, let’s get men out of women’s sports. #StillInMyPrime
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) April 24, 2023
Ramaswamy said CNN made a sound decision in firing Lemon.
“I think this could be a good cultural move for CNN,” the 37-year-old businessman said in a video on Monday.
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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.