Don Lemon has been fired by CNN after 17 years with the network.
The longtime news anchor, 57, confirmed the news in a statement shared via Twitter on Monday, April 24. “I was informed this morning by my agent that I have been terminated by CNN,” Lemon wrote. “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.”
The Louisiana native, who hosted his CNN This Morning show earlier on Monday, continued: “It is clear that there are some larger issues at play. With that said, I want to thank my colleagues and the many teams I have worked with for an incredible run. They are the most talented journalists in the business, and I wish them all the best.”
The network confirmed the news in a separate statement, saying: “CNN and Don have parted ways. 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.”
CNN also confirmed that Lemon’s morning show, which he cohosted with Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins, would continue. “CNN This Morning has been on the air for nearly six months, and we are committed to its success,” the network said.
After Lemon claimed he was fired, however, the network denied his version of events. “Don Lemon’s statement about this morning’s events is inaccurate,” read a statement shared via the CNN communication team’s official Twitter account. “He was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter.”
News of Lemon’s exit comes two months after he was briefly taken off the air following a sexist remark about former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley. “Nikki Haley isn’t in her prime, sorry,” the journalist said in February while discussing Haley’s suggestion that politicians over age 75 should be subject to mental competency tests. “When a woman is considered to be in her prime — in her 20s, 30s and maybe her 40s.”
When Harlow, 40, asked her cohost to clarify, Lemon said that an internet search would explain what he meant. “Don’t shoot the messenger, I’m just saying what the facts are,” the Transparent author told his fellow anchor. “Google it. … Nikki Haley should be careful about saying that politicians are not in their prime, and they need to be in their prime when they serve. Because she wouldn’t be in her prime, according to Google or whatever it is.”
Haley, 51, responded to the controversy via social media, tweeting: “Liberals can’t stand the idea of having competency tests for older politicians to make sure they can do the job. BTW it’s always the liberals who are the most sexist.”
The former South Carolina governor had announced her candidacy for the 2024 presidential election days earlier. “You should know this about me. I don’t put up with bullies,” she said in a video shared via social media. “And when you kick back, it hurts them more if you’re wearing heels. I’m Nikki Haley, and I’m running for president.”
Shortly after Lemon’s comments made headlines, the Edward R. Murrow award winner apologized for the remarks. “The reference I made to a woman’s ‘prime’ this morning was inartful and irrelevant, as colleagues and loved ones have pointed out, and I regret it,” he tweeted in February. “A woman’s age doesn’t define her either personally or professionally. I have countless women in my life who prove that every day.”
One day after the controversy, Lemon was noticeably absent from CNN This Morning. When the February 17 episode of the show began, Collins, 31, acknowledged her colleague’s absence by saying, “Don has the day off.”
The former Today correspondent returned to the network on February 22. Ahead of the broadcast, he issued a second apology via Twitter.
“I appreciate this opportunity to be back on CNN This Morning today,” he wrote at the time. “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.”