Don Lemon's CNN Colleagues 'Floored' by His Firing, Source Says

'He was on the air this morning,' another source says. 'Everyone thought the controversy had been settled.'

Don Lemon's sudden CNN ouster has sent shockwaves through the network's newsroom. 

A source tells ET that "everyone is floored" at CNN by the news of Lemon's firing. CNN staff is nervous by the "direction the network is going in or how things are going to play out." 

CNN revealed on Monday that it has "parted ways" with the longtime anchor, who had become the subject of controversy while co-hosting CNN This Morning. According to a statement issued to employees and obtained by ET, CNN Chairman and CEO Chris Licht wrote: "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." 

For his part, Lemon tweeted that he was "stunned" by the decision and claimed to have been informed earlier that morning by his agent. 

"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," Lemon tweeted. 

The network quickly replied on its CNN Communications Twitter account, calling Lemon's claim "inaccurate."

"He was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter," CNN's response reads. 

A source familiar with the situation explains 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.

Meanwhile, another source tells ET that Lemon's departure "came as a total surprise" to staff, who "found out in real time when the news broke in the media." The source adds that the staff is expected to have a meeting this afternoon to further discuss his removal and that any details they’ve received so far have been "vague."

Yet another source echoes that, "Everyone is shook."

"He was on the air this morning," the source continues. "Everyone thought the controversy had been settled. There has been nothing else new that has come up. This was the first day the morning team was back together 'cause Kaitlan [Collins, co-anchor and chief correspondent] was on [vacation] last week."

The controversy in question stems from earlier this month, when Variety published an exposé claiming that the 57-year-old CNN anchor has exhibited "troubling treatment of women and unprofessional antics" for nearly two decades.

"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 told ET at the time. "It's amazing and disappointing that Variety would be so reckless."

Additionally, in a comment to ET, a CNN spokesperson said, "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."

Earlier this year, Lemon drew ire in February when, while discussing 51-year-old Nikki Haley's presidential bid, he said the politician "isn't in her prime." 

Afterward, Lemon apologized on Twitter, calling his comment "inartful and irrelevant."

"I regret it," he wrote. "A woman's age doesn't define her either personally or professionally. I have countless women in my life who prove that every day."

Lemon was pulled off-air for his comment, but returned just days after, with Licht promising in an email to staff that the anchor "agreed to participate in formal training, as well as continuing to listen and learn."

"I appreciate the opportunity to be back on @CNNThisMorning today," Lemon tweeted upon his return. "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."