Don Lemon Says He Was Fired at CNN and Wasn't Told By Network: 'I Am Stunned'

The longtime news anchor took to Twitter to react to the news about his dismissal from the network.

Following the shocking news of Tucker Carlon's departure from Fox News on Monday, CNN revealed that it has "parted ways" with longtime anchor Don Lemon, who had become the subject of controversy while co-hosting CNN This Morning

According to an email from CNN CEO Chris Licht, "Don will forever be a part of the CNN family, and we thank him for his contributions over the past 17 years. We wish him well and will be cheering him on in his future endeavors." 

Following the announcement, Lemon took to Twitter to share that he was "stunned" by the decision. 

"I was informed this morning by my agent that I have been terminated by CNN," he shared in a statement posted on the social media platform. "I am stunned. After 17 years at CNN I would have thought that someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly. At no time was I ever given any indication that I would not be able to continue to do the work I have loved at the network." 

Not long after Lemon shared his reaction on Twitter, CNN posted a statement in response to his accusations. "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," the network shared.

Additionally, a source familiar with the situation explained to ET that CNN management’s offer to meet with Lemon came after the network told his agent that he was fired, and his agent in turn told Lemon. At that point, Lemon didn't see the need to meet with CNN management.

Earlier this year, Lemon became embroiled in controversy following remarks he made about South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and her age. 

At the time, the morning show co-host addressed CNN staffers and apologized for his comments. "I'm sorry that I said it. And I certainly see why people found it completely misguided," Lemon said. "When I make a mistake, I own it. And I own this one as well."

Lemon stressed, "I believe that women of any age… can do whatever they set their minds to," adding, "The people I am closest to in this organization are women... The people I seek counsel from most in this organization are women."

Within days of his apology and subsequent absence from CNN This Morning, Licht revealed that Lemon would undergo "formal training" as part of his return to his co-hosting duties. 

"I sat down with Don and had a frank and meaningful conversation," Licht wrote in an email. "He has agreed to participate in formal training, as well as continuing to listen and learn. We take this situation very seriously."

Ahead of his return to the show, Lemon took to Twitter to share his gratitude about coming back at the time. "I appreciate the opportunity to be back," he wrote. "To my network, my colleagues and our incredible audience -- I'm sorry. I’ve heard you, I'm learning from you, and I'm committed to doing better. See you soon."

However, months later, Lemon was the subject of a Variety exposé, which made allegations of longtime misogynistic behavior and reported that he exhibited "troubling treatment of women and unprofessional antics" for nearly two decades. 

In a statement to ET, Lemon denied those allegations. "The story, which is riddled with patently false anecdotes and no concrete evidence, is entirely based on unsourced, unsubstantiated, 15-year-old anonymous gossip," a spokesperson on behalf of Lemon said. "It's amazing and disappointing that Variety would be so reckless."

Additionally, in a comment to ET, a CNN spokesperson says, "The Variety story provides no actual proof, and instead relies on anonymous sources and unsubstantiated claims from 10 to 15 years ago. CNN is unable to corroborate the alleged accounts."

According to Variety, Lemon's behavior of note began back in 2008 when he was co-hosting Live From with Kyra Phillips. The outlet reported that, on more than one occasion, he had to be pulled off-air because of "provocative antics."

Multiple sources claimed that Lemon called one of his producers fat to her face. The same sources alleged that he "mocked" Nancy Grace while two witnesses claimed that he questioned Soledad O'Brien's race after she was named host of CNN's Black in America docuseries.

Meanwhile, in a statement to ET, the CNN spokesperson said, "Don, Soledad and others have in the past correctly referred to her Afro-Cuban heritage as it is a unique part of her personal story. But Don denies making any related remark in a derogatory way."

Variety, citing more than a dozen of Lemon's former and current colleagues, claimed that Lemon has "flouted rules and cozied up to power all while displaying open hostility to many female co-workers" and has long "appeared to charm his way out of facing any meaningful consequences."

Among the allegations against Lemon are that he's "a shameless name dropper," who often speaks of previous lawsuits, which, to some, "signaled that he was litigious." The outlet also claimed that that Lemon exhibits "diva-like behavior," including complaining over his airtime compared to that of Anderson Cooper at Michael Jackson's 2009 memorial.

Lemon came under fire again in 2021 when disgraced actor Jussie Smollett testified that he first learned that police doubted his story after Lemon texted him a warning. Afterwards, Lemon declined to give the cops his phone.

"CNN reviewed the incident in question at the time and found that any interaction was an act of journalism as Don was attempting to prompt a response from Mr. Smollett and book him for his show," a CNN spokesperson told ET.

After hosting Don Lemon Tonight, the anchor was moved to dayside as co-host of CNN This Morning with Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow, where he found himself facing backlash over his comments about Haley.