OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
CNN has come out swinging after a Variety story suggested that one of its anchors, Don Lemon, had been caught being a misogynist when he first came to the network.
“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,” the network said.
And the anchor himself also denied the allegations in the report.
“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 or the anchor said. “It’s amazing and disappointing that Variety would be so reckless.”
.@CNN responded to the Don Lemon disaster: "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." — WAIT. I thought we 'Believe all Women' ??
— Jon Nicosia (@NewsPolitics) April 5, 2023
Lemon is closer than ever to his exit from the network as new misogyny from him has been discovered.
When Lemon was cohosting a show on CNN named “Live From” with Kyra Phillips, there was tension between the two of them. There were some occasions when a producer from the show had to take Lemon off during a commercial break because he was provoking his cohost.
Amid the charged atmosphere, sources say Lemon disrespected colleague Nancy Grace on the air and Soledad O’Brien during an editorial meeting attended by roughly 30 staffers.
But his antipathy toward Phillips was particularly concerning and had many members of the close-knit Atlanta news team on edge. While Phillips was on assignment in Iraq — a high-profile gig that Lemon coveted — he vented his disappointment at being passed over by tearing up pictures and notes on top of and inside Phillips’ desk in the news pod they shared, according to two sources who worked there at the time. When she returned from Iraq, things only got weirder. One night while dining with members of the news team, she received the first of two threatening text messages from an unknown number on her flip phone that warned, “Now you’ve crossed the line, and you’re going to pay for it.” Phillips was visibly rattled and quickly enlisted CNN’s higher ups to identify the sender.
Remarkably, the texts were traced back to Lemon, according to those same sources. A human resources investigation was launched, and while the findings were never disclosed to the growing pool of staffers who were aware of the situation, Lemon was abruptly pulled from his co-anchor duties with Phillips and moved to the weekends. It was a demotion by any objective measure and understood to be some kind of disciplinary action. It appears to be the last time he was paired with a female anchor until his most recent assignment on “CNN This Morning With Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow, and Kaitlan Collins.”
“Don says the alleged incident never occurred and that he was never notified of any investigation. CNN cannot corroborate the alleged events from 15 years ago,” a CNN spokesperson said.
When Lemon's "Live From" co-anchor Kyra Phillips was on assignment in Iraq — a gig that Lemon coveted — he vented his disappointment by tearing up pictures and notes on top of and inside Phillips’ desk in the news pod they shared, according to two sources. https://t.co/0Iz9NvKFHv
— Variety (@Variety) April 5, 2023
Lemon also once mocked Nancy Grace on air by mimicking her.
A person close to Grace said “she thinks he’s an ass” and that he was always “rude, dismissive and really unfamiliar with [news] content being discussed.” https://t.co/0Iz9NvKFHv
— Variety (@Variety) April 5, 2023
Lemon was demoted from his own primetime show to an ensemble cast and the only next step for him would be his exit from the network. The newest iteration of CNN’s morning show, “CNN This Morning,” hosted by Lemon, Poppy Harlow, and Kaitlan Collins is the lowest-rated CNN morning show of any in its history.
CNN has long failed to keep pace with its cable news competitors Fox News and MSNBC during the morning hours. But it hasn’t been this bad in quite some time. The revamped program with Lemon is the network’s lowest-rated morning show iteration in nearly a decade.
“Since its Nov. 1, 2022 launch, “CNN This Morning” — hosted by Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow, and Kaitlan Collins — has drawn in the lowest viewership among adults 25-54, the key demographic for cable news, and the second-lowest total viewership among each iteration of the network’s morning programming since ‘New Day’ was launched in June 2013, according to Nielsen data,” the outlet comments.
Specifically, Lemon has sunk total viewership of 16.2% compared to the most recent iteration of “New Day. In the demo, viewership has decreased by 21% with the show’s first three months on-air.