Don Lemon has given his first post-CNN interview. The former anchor, who spent 17 years at the network, was in Memphis to speak during the NAACP’s Freedom Fund gala.
Lemon was the first journalist to talk to Rowvaugn Wells, the mother of Tyree Nicholas, who suffered fatal injuries in a beating by four Memphis police officers. They are now awaiting trial on second-degree murder charges.
Lemon, who is now sporting a beard with some grey in it, told Memphis station ABC 24 that he was fired because he refused to interview “liars and bigots.”
“I have a responsibility as an American — not only as a journalist — to tell the truth and abide by the promises of the constitution,” he said. “Because the Constitution says a more perfect union — not a perfect union. I’m not perfect. No one is, but I think to fulfill the promise of the Constitution, we have to stand up for what is right. We have to stand up for the truth.”
At the time of his firing, Lemon said that he was blindsided by the move. He said in a tweet that he was not told there were any issues with his work and that he was informed his services were no longer needed by his agent.
This came after Lemon was moved from the evening hour where he anchored solo to a morning show where he was placed with Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow, two white female anchors.
Though he took the move in stride, he came under fire after saying that women were “past their prime” in their 40s when Nikki Haley announced her run for the presidency. Haley is 51. Lemon is 57.
Lemon was then accused of being a misogynist and a “diva” throughout the last decade of his CNN career. He had also tangled with GOP candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, telling him it was insulting that he was “sitting here, whatever ethnicity you are, explaining to me what it’s like to be Black in America.” The exchange was said to have led to the “exasperation” CNN execs felt about his behavior.
Ironically, CNN chief Chris Licht was himself fired some months later, the second CNN head honcho to leave in the last two years. There’s some validation for Lemon as Licht’s firing was said to be part of his error-filled tenure at the network, which included the unceremonious end to Lemon’s CNN career and agreeing to a lengthy piece in The Atlantic.
“I don’t believe in platforming liars and bigots, insurrectionists and election deniers and putting them on the same footing as people who are telling the truth; people who are fighting for what’s right, people who are abiding by the Constitution,” Lemon said. “I think that would be a dereliction of journalistic duty to do those sorts of things.”
Watch the full interview above and see Twitter’s hilarious reaction to Lemon’s CNN firing below.
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