Back in 2008, Don Lemon was co-anchoring CNN’s “Live From” weekday show with Kyra Phillips, a gig that he landed after he arrived at the network two years prior from local news in Chicago. For months, tensions between the pair kept mounting. On more than one occasion, a “Live From” producer and a newsroom supervisor had to pull Lemon off the air during a commercial break because of the anchor’s provocative antics, not unlike his recent declaration that the 51-year-old Nikki Haley isn’t a viable presidential candidate because she “isn’t in her prime.” 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.
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Remarkably, the texts were traced back to Lemon, according to those same sources. A human resources investigation was launched, and while the findings were neverdisclosedto 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.Itappears to bethe 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.”
Phillips, who joined ABC as a Washington-based correspondent in 2018,declined comment.A spokesperson for CNN said, “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.”
In the wake of Lemon’s Feb. 16 Haley comments — derided as “unacceptable” and “sexist” by everyone from CNN chair Chris Licht to Haley herself, and even referenced by Oscar-winner Michelle Yeoh during her bestactressacceptance speech — his fate at CNN hung in the balance, with many colleagues privately calling for his ouster. Despite the outcry, he landed back on his feet after riding the bench for two days, posting a Twittermeaculpa in which he insisted that he is “committed to doing better” and ignoring the matter altogether during his Feb. 22 on-air return. Still, the incident has spotlightedLemon’s troubling treatment of women and unprofessional antics, dating back nearly two decades.Varietyspoke with more than a dozen former and current colleagues who painted a picture ofa journalistwho flouted rules and cozied up to power allwhile displaying open hostilitytomanyfemale co-workers.Each and every time, he appeared to charm his way out of facing any meaningful consequences.
Those who worked with him say he was a shameless name dropper and left behind hints that he socialized with important people, like a hand-written note from Stedman Graham that he had taped on his computer. Some were unnerved by his talk of his previous lawsuits, believing it signaled that he was litigious. He frequently let drop that he successfully sued Tower Records as well as the Chicago PD for racial profiling and didn’t need to worry about money thanks to the settlements.(Varietycan only find record of the former, which was settled in 2001 and appears to be sealed. Through a CNN spokesperson, Lemon says he never sued the Chicago PD). All the while, he began openly dating a fresh-out-of-college staffer despite a major age difference and power imbalance. (Lemon was41, while the staffer was22.) The ambitious anchor, who is gay, was not out of the closet at the time,butwasn’thiding it either. The pair would drive to work together in Lemon’s car andbegan along-termopen relationship. Dating a junior employee was frowned upon at the time.
“As fast as you could make a rule, Don would bend it,” says one senior executive at the time.
More troubling was his misogynistic behavior, multiple sources say. Lemon called one of his producersfatto her face. Not long before he was identified as sending threatening texts to Phillips, he mocked Grace on air by mimicking her, shocking fellow colleagues. Grace declined comment but a person close to her tellsVarietythat “she thinks he’s an ass” and that he was always “rude, dismissive and really unfamiliar with the [news] content being discussed.”
“That was the beginning of when you knew that Don was kind of volatile and didn’t say good things about women,” says a witness to the Grace incident.
If Lemon felt threatened by Grace, the biggest staratCNN/Headline News at the time, shewasn’tthe only one.He was upset that O’Brienlanded the gig of hosting CNN’s high-profile “Black in America” docuseries,which launched in 2008. During an editorial call attended by roughly 30 staffers, he suggested O’Brienisn’tBlack, according to two witnesses, who found the characterization wildly offensive. “Don always wanted to be front and center on anything high profile, especially anything involving race,” says a colleague.
O’Brien, whowasn’tpresent,tellsVariety, “Don has long had a habit of saying idiotic and inaccuratethings,so it sounds pretty on brand for him.”
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.”
When hewasn’tshocking his cohorts, he was annoying them with “diva-like behavior,” says one, like skipping editorial calls, showing up late to the newsroom or just generally exhibiting disengaged behavior. In 2009, CNN was allowed to send one journalist into the Staples Center to cover the Michael Jackson memorial. Lemon was the choice, while Anderson Cooper and O’Brien anchored outside. Sources remember Lemon complaining on social media that Cooper got more airtime.
“That led to a come-to-Jesusmoment,” says another senior executive from the era. “Don was told, ‘Look,you’vegot to address your behavior. Your performance as a reporter is great.It’syour behavior that’sgottaimprove.It’swhat’sgoing to derail you ifyou’renot careful.’”
Instead of reining in Lemon, his superiors let things slide, perhaps because he had fostered a close friendship with then-Turner Broadcasting Systemchairmanand CEO Phil Kent, sitting in the Turner box alongside Kent at sporting events.
After Kent hired Jeff Zucker to run the network in 2013, Lemon only became moreof a provocateur.About six months after Zucker arrived, Lemongavehis on-airtake onfive ways the Black community could fix its problems,including suggesting “pull up your pants.” He went on to add: “Walking around with your ass and your underwear showing is notOK. In fact, it comes from prison when they take away beltsfrom the prisoner so that theycan’tmake a weapon. And then it evolved into which role a prisoner would have during male-on-male prison sex. The one with thereally lowpants is a submissive one. You get my point.”Goldie Taylor, a former CNNconsultantwho appeared frequentlyas a guest on Lemon’s weekend show,said she was blacklisted at the networkfor critiquingLemon’scontroversial comments.“I am personally banned from a networkb/c, ironicallyenough, I dared disagree w/ a black man publiclyabtblack life […] Idon’tthrow rocks and hide my hand. That network is @CNNand the anchor is @donlemon,”she tweeted in 2016.
Taylorremainssteadfast in her criticism of Lemon.
“I’m never surprised when Don gets in trouble,”shetellsVariety.“It makes me neither happy nor sad to see him undermine his own success.There was a time whenit appeared that Black peoplewere most often the subject of his ire. Now, it seems to me that when he says something offensive,there’salmost alwaysa woman on the other side.”
(A CNN spokesperson says he does not know why the network cut ties with Taylor.)
One female colleague who had been close to the anchor in his early days at the network found thatduring the Zucker era, Lemonwaslosingtouch with his former friends. She adds that the change showed in his journalistic choices, with the anchor neglecting important stories affecting the Black community.
“I saw a new Don emerging, and I didn’t like the new Don,” she says. “He likes celebrity. He likes fame, likes power. He was no longer the same person.”
Hebecame increasinglypolarizing, particularly when it came to discussing women, which sometimes came off as tone-deaf. In 2014, he drew widespread condemnation when he told a Bill Cosby rape accuser that she could have stopped an attack by biting the comedian’s penis.
Over the years, Lemon relied upon his charm to win over would-be adversaries, particularly men. Even the opposing counsel in the Tower Records lawsuit speaks glowingly of the anchor.
“I thought he was a quality person and a pleasure to be in his company,” says attorney Paul Rosen, who represented Tower Records in the civil suit. “I remember him working with me on a number of cases I had in Philadelphia [after the settlement] and it’s a pleasure to see [him] on air and what he has achieved in the broadcasting field.”
Likewise, Zucker never wavered with his support for Lemon.In 2016, he landed in the primetime lineup with his own show, “Don Lemon Tonight.” That same year, Donald Trump called Lemon “dumb as a rock,” which only contributed to the anchor’s rising star. The more Trump criticized Lemon, the more his fame grew as he quickly became a household name alongside Cooper.
Butsomecolleaguesquestionedhis journalistic ethics. In 2021, disgraced actor Jussie Smollett testified in court that he first learned that Chicago police doubted his story about being the victim of a MAGA-inspired attack after he received a text message warningfromLemon. As a result, Lemon opted not to hand his phone records overtocops.
Says Washington State University journalism professor Ryan Thomas, “Ethically speaking, we can distinguish between conflicts of interest that should be avoided and conflicts of interests that, if theycan’tbe avoided, should bemitigatedanddisclosed. [The Smollett case is] very clearly in the former category. …Involving yourself in a story involving a public figure—whether to warn, advise or coach—is as clear and bright and flashing an ethical red line as it gets in journalism. Afreshmanjournalism student would clearly recognize the problems inherent.”
Adds one long-time colleague:“He should have been benched in that instance.No question.”
But CNN says itlooked intothe matter and found Lemonbehavedappropriately. “CNN reviewed the incident in question at the time and found that any interaction was an act of journalism as Don wasattemptingto prompt a response from Mr. Smollett and book him for his show,” a spokesperson for the network said.
Regardless,Zuckerstood by Lemon despite firing anchor Chris Cuomo for advising his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as the latter faced sexual harassment allegations.In arbitration filings, Chris Cuomo’s attorneys argued that his transgressions were similar to Lemon’s. After Zucker was ousted in 2022, many believed that Lemon would be on the chopping block. But Lemon survived the regime change at parent companyWarnerMedia following its merger with Discovery that same year. Still, higher-ups were suddenly paying attention to his behavior amid his woeful ratings. In September, he relied on a sexist trope on air to try to explain why fellow panelist S.E. Cupp was stumbling over a statistic about Republicans. “Is it fair to say this becauseI’m not amommy, butis it mommy brain?” he asked Cupp. An awkward silence ensued before Cupp answered, “No, Don, I just forgot what I was going to say,” she said.
Then, Lemon was moved back to mornings in November and paired with two female anchors, PoppyHarlowand Kaitlan Collins, for the first time since the Phillips debacle. One executive noted that it was a recipe for disaster. And the gaffes continued. One month into the new gig, Lemon drew ire for saying the U.S. men’s national soccer team should get paid more than the women’s team and insisted the former is “more interesting to watch.”
Three months later came the Haley comments, which sources sayprompted Harlow to flee the setwith Collins followingher to try to talk to her. An intense news cycle ensued, with the CNN brand taking a hit at a time when the network’s ratings continue to nosedive as it tries to find its footing in the Licht era. But once again, Lemon survived the outcry.
Still, if there was a past laissez-faire attitude about Lemon, those daysappear to beover. CNN is making him undergo “formal training.” Now,more and morepeopleare willing to call him to task, like a critical Washington Post op-ed titled “Does Don Lemon’s punishment fit the crime?”But heremainsplanted behind the anchors’ desk.
Saysattorney Devin McRae, who specializes in entertainment contract litigation,“These provisions that [CNN anchors] have in their contracts that define what is cause for termination,it’spretty abstract. That allows CNN to subjectively apply it.Ultimately,itdoes seem to come down to, ‘How isLemon’sbehaviormakingCNNlook?’”
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Who is Don Lemon? ›
Don Lemon (born March 1, 1966) is an American television journalist most well known for being a host on CNN. Lemon anchored weekend news programs on local television stations in Alabama and Pennsylvania during his early days as a journalist.How tall is Don Lemon? › What is Don Lemon's net worth? ›
What is Don Lemon's Net Worth and Salary? Don Lemon is an American journalist and television news anchor who has a net worth of $12 million. Don Lemon is best known for being one of the lead anchors and presenters for CNN.Does Don Lemon have a child? ›
Don Lemon is currently engaged to real estate agent, Tim Malone, and the couple do not have any children.Where does Don Lemon do his show from? ›
|Don Lemon Tonight|
|Production locations||30 Hudson Yards New York City|
|Running time||120 minutes|
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What is Anderson Cooper's salary? Cooper makes a cool $12 million per year for his work with CNN, Yahoo! Finance reports. Cooper is one of the highest-paid news anchors and broadcast reporters in the United States.What is Don Lemon doing now? ›
The CNN anchor Don Lemon will return to his regular morning-show role on Wednesday, the network announced late Monday night, after an uproar over a series of comments he made on the air last week about women and aging.Who is the highest-paid CNN anchor? ›
CNN's Anderson Cooper clocks in as the highest-paid anchor or host in cable news, earning $12 million.
Who is the highest-paid news anchor on MSNBC? ›
Rachel Maddow got her start with MSNBC as a political analyst and launched her eponymous show on the network in 2008. She has gone on to become one of the highest-paid TV stars, with a multimillion-dollar salary.What is Greg Gutfeld salary at Fox? ›
Greg Gutfeld earns a $24 million salary annually from his employer, Fox News. Greg Gutfeld is one of the richest television hosts in the world. Greg Gutfeld is the host of the late-night comedy talk show Gutfeld!How old is Lemon? ›
The lemon was first recorded in literature in a 10th-century Arabic treatise on farming, and was also used as an ornamental plant in early Islamic gardens.How old is Don Lemon today? › Who is lemons boyfriend? ›
DON Lemon often shares screen time with a number of guests while anchoring shows for CNN. However, audiences are curious to know more about Don's relationship with his longtime partner Tim Malone.How do I get in touch with Don Lemon? ›
- John King — Inside Politics (weekday edition)
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- Christine Romans — Early Start (with Laura Jarrett)
- Jim Sciutto — CNN Newsroom (with Erica Hill; temporary replacement for Poppy Harlow)
- Jake Tapper — The Lead with Jake Tapper.
After fourteen years of hosting Azuz will end his tenure as the anchor for CNN 10, however, Azuz is still committed to his career. He gives the fans credit as “the reason why my work is so special.”Who did Dana Bash marry? › Do Dana Bash and John King have a child? ›
On May 25, 2008, King married his second wife, fellow CNN anchor Dana Bash. Before marrying Bash, King (previously a Roman Catholic) converted to Judaism, Bash's religion. Bash and King have a son, Jonah, who was born in June 2011.
How old is Dana Health? ›Who is the No 1 anchor in the world? ›
Anderson Cooper. As a news anchor, Anderson Cooper is the wealthiest and probably world's best anchor. Now, his net worth is $200 million net.What is the average salary for a local TV News Anchor? ›
How much does a NEWS Anchor make? As of Apr 9, 2023, the average annual pay for a NEWS Anchor in the United States is $60,575 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $29.12 an hour. This is the equivalent of $1,164/week or $5,047/month.Who is the world's youngest TV anchor? ›
Meet the world's youngest TV news presenter - an 11-year-old schoolboy who anchors his very own show from his bedroom every day. Hugh Murphy got interested in the news at the start of the pandemic and started making his own mini newspaper to share more positive stories to cheer up his pals.How much did Gloria Vanderbilt inherit from her father? ›
Upon their father's death from cirrhosis when Vanderbilt was 18 months old, she and her half-sister became heiresses to a half share each in a $5 million trust fund, equivalent to $77 million in 2021 value.What is Hoda Kotb's annual salary? ›
How much money does Hoda Kotb make in a year? Hoda Kotb's salary at Today is reportedly between $8 million and $10 million dollars, but this isn't the TV personality's only source of income – she also makes money from her writing.What is Anderson Cooper's salary on 60 Minutes? ›
In 2007, he signed a multi-year deal with CNN that would also allow him to continue to occasionally contribute as a correspondent for 60 Minutes on CBS. He doubled his annual salary from $2 to $4 million. As mentioned, Cooper has won numerous awards for his coverage of significant world events.How old is Poppy Harlow? › What happened to CNN Morning show? ›
On December 1, 2022, it was announced that the show would also be simulcast on HLN beginning on December 6, replacing Morning Express with Robin Meade.Is Dana Bash married? ›
What is Jesse Watters salary at Fox? ›
He co-hosts "The Five," a talk show with a roundtable discussion format. Jesse earns a salary of $2 million from Fox for his contributions to the platform.How much does a CNN employee get paid? ›
The average CNN salary ranges from approximately $14,500 per year for Self Employed to $169,349 per year for Senior Director. Average CNN hourly pay ranges from approximately $7.51 per hour for Help Desk Analyst to $63.00 per hour for Mobile Developer.How much does CNN pay breaking news reporters? ›
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Robin Roberts is currently the highest-paid GMA anchor. The longtime news personality earns an estimated salary of $18 million, per Celebrity Net Worth. The outlet also reports that Robin has amassed a $55 million net worth.Who is the best anchor news channel? ›
There are many respected news anchors in India, but some of the most respected include Sudhir Chaudhary, Anjana Om Kashyap, Rajat Sharma, Arnab Goswami, and Rajdeep Sardesai.Who is the news anchor of the most popular TV channel? ›
The current editor-in-chief of Republic TV Network, Arnab Goswami is one of the most famous and influential news anchors in India. Before starting Republic TV, Arnab has worked with NDTV, The Telegraph, and Times Now.How did Tyrus meet Greg Gutfeld? ›
In November 2016, Fox News host Greg Gutfeld invited Murdoch to appear as a guest commentator on The Greg Gutfeld Show; after Murdoch's first appearance, Gutfeld offered to have him back on the show – using his stage name "Tyrus" – twice a month.Who is the highest paid news anchor in America? ›
1. Sean Hannity. Sean Hannity, a stalwart at Fox News as host of "The Sean Hannity Show" earns $40 million at the broadcast network, and has an estimated net worth of $250 million.What is Dana Perino's salary at Fox? ›
Dana Perino earns a salary of more than $250,000 per annum. As of 2021, she has an estimated net worth of $6 million. This makes her one of the richest Fox News women.Why did lemon go to jail? ›
Wade reminded her that he still didn't know why she'd been in jail. It turned out that Lemon and Enrique had been drunk and dancing naked in a fountain. She'd taken the blame so her grandmother wouldn't fire him.
Is lemon a male or female? ›
Lemon trees are monoecious, so they have both the male and female reproductive organs in the same tree. There are no independent lemon trees.Who does Lavon Hayes end up with? ›
In the series finale, Lavon and Lemon finally marry each other.Who is Don Lemon working for? ›
New York (CNN) CNN anchor Don Lemon will return to the network's air on Wednesday and will participate in formal training following sexist comments he made last week, the network's chief executive, Chris Licht, said in an email to employees Monday night.What is Don Lemon's annual salary at CNN? ›
Don Lemon's CNN salary and net worth
Don Lemon's salary is $4 million while his net worth is roughly $12 million. Don Lemon is one of the best journalists CNN is proud to have. He has made headlines for his expertise, and recently due to his ratings. Regardless, he continues to do great in what he knows best how.
In season 3, episode 7 it is revealed that Shelby is pregnant and Lemon and Brick suspects it is his. She had at first told them that she was inseminated, but then later reveled that she had a one night stand with the Lieutenant Governor Alex Byrd of Alabama.
Keith Lemon is known for his outrageous antics on Celebrity Juice, but in real life, he is very different, says good friend Fearne Cotton. The star spoke out about the Behind the Keyhole presenter – real name Leigh Francis - and how when the cameras are turned off, he is a "quiet and reserved".What kind of dog does Don Lemon have? ›
I love dogs and cats. I have Fergie my Chihuahua mix with jack russel.Who are the parents of Don Lemon? › What company does Don Lemon work for? ›
CNN anchor Don Lemon will return to the network's air on Wednesday and will participate in formal training following sexist comments he made last week, the network's chief executive, Chris Licht, said in an email to employees Monday night.Is Victor Blackwell leaving CNN? ›
“Inside Politics” will continue airing at noon ET with anchor John King. As a result of the programming changes, “CNN Newsroom” anchors Victor Blackwell and Alisyn Camerota will transition to new roles. Blackwell will move back to hosting the network's weekend morning show from Atlanta.
Who is Poppy Harlow married to? ›
Personal life. Harlow is married to Sinisa Babcic.What age is Don Lemon? › Who was the lemon family? ›
The CNN anchor Don Lemon will return to his regular morning-show role on Wednesday, the network announced late Monday night, after an uproar over a series of comments he made on the air last week about women and aging. In a terse, 75-word memo sent at 10:37 p.m., CNN's chairman, Chris Licht, said Mr.Who is the CEO of lemon? ›
Marcelo Cavazzoli is the CEO and Founder of Lemon Cash. He founded Lemon in the living room of his apartment. He attended University of Buenos Aires.Who was the CNN anchor that was fired? ›
CNN TERMINATES CHRIS CUOMO 'EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY'
Learn from me. I love you. I will always love you, doesn't matter what you do, and I am here for whatever I can do. I'm gonna get angry, I'm gonna screw up, I'm gonna make mistakes, I'm gonna say and do things that you should not say and do.
On February 16, 2021, Baldwin announced that she would leave CNN in mid-April. She hosted her final show on April 16.What happened to Don Lemon? ›
CNN's Don Lemon returns after sexist and ageist remarks about Nikki Haley Don Lemon has been absent from his morning show after making sexist and ageist remarks about Republican presidential contender Nikki Haley.Why did Poppy Harlow leave CNN? ›
Harlow announced her unusual TV leave of absence on “CNN Newsroom” Tuesday morning. “Starting next week, I will be taking a break from being with you every morning on this show so that I can go back to school. Yes, school! I'm going to study law for a Master's degree,” she said on the air.Is Poppy on CNN pregnant? ›
CNN anchor Poppy Harlow, pregnant with her second child, today received an unusually pointed congratulations from a pro-life advocate representing Alabama Senatorial candidate Roy Moore. “It's great to be with you, and congratulations on your unborn child,” Jane Porter told Harlow via satellite Tuesday morning.
How many kids does Poppy Harlow have? ›
Do they have children? Harlow and Babcic have two children, Sienna and Luca James Babcic. Poppy and Sinisa told PEOPLE in 2018 that they chose the name Luca to honor Babcic's eastern European roots.