In a lengthy report posted on Variety’s website earlier this week, Lemon was accused of disrespecting female colleagues including Kyra Phillips who he worked with in 2008 as co-anchors of a daily show called Live From….
The report says when Phillips traveled to Iraq to report an assignment he wanted, he’d tear up photos and notes and leave them on and in Phillips’ desk in a work area they shared.
Anonymous texts to Phillips that said, “Now you’ve crossed the line, and you’re going to pay for it,” were traced back to Lemon’s phone. In what was viewed as an internal punishment, he was pulled from the show altogether and moved to weekends.
Years later, Lemon was anchoring his own show Don Lemon Tonight until a change in philosophy and upper management moved him to a morning show with co-anchors Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins. Things were seemingly going well until Lemon said in February that GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley was “past her prime” at 51.
Ironically, Lemon is 57. After the backlash to his comments, Lemon apologized and was, according to reports, to undergo training sessions.
According to a spokesperson, Lemon says the report is inaccurate. The Insider says he’s considering his legal options.
“The story, which is riddled with patently false anecdotes and no concrete evidence, is entirely based on unsourced, unsubstantiated, 15-year-old anonymous gossip,” Lemon said, per the New York Post. “It’s amazing and disappointing that Variety would be so reckless.”
But former CNN correspondent Soledad O’Brien did speak for the record. Lemon was accused of saying that O’Brien “wasn’t Black” enough to anchor the Black in America series in 2008. O’Brien is half-Afro-Cuban, half-white.
“Don has long had a habit of saying idiotic and inaccurate things,” O’Brien said, “so it sounds pretty on brand for him.”
Variety says they spoke to more than 12 current and former colleagues who accused him of everything from consistent misogyny to inappropriately dating a younger staff member, who didn’t report to him but wasn’t as powerful in the company.
He is said to have called another colleague fat to her face and to have mocked then-high-profile CNN anchor Nancy Grace on the air.
Phillips, Grace and others involved in the Variety story refused to comment. One female colleague said of Lemon, who was also accused of currying favor with high-level executives said, “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.”
So far, any fallout from the report has been muted. CNN has bigger issues as its ratings have tanked since Trump, a frequent target during his time in the White House, is no longer as prominent a public figure.
Former CNN president Jeff Zucker was fired after it was found he had a longtime consensual relationship with a colleague. He was fired not for anything inappropriate but because he didn’t explicitly reveal the relationship to CNN bosses.
Popular anchor Chris Cuomo, who hosted the show right before Lemon’s in prime time, was axed after it was revealed that he advised his brother, former New York governor Andrew Cuomo when sexual harassment allegations were levied against him. Both brothers lost their jobs.
Here’s how Twitter reacted to Lemon’s previous sexist comments.
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