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Don Lemon Hints CNN Fired Him for Refusing to Give Airtime to ‘Liars and Bigots’

Don Lemon Claims CNN Fired Him for Refusing to Give Airtime to Liars and Bigots
Don Lemon attends 2023 TIME100 Gala on April 26, 2023 in New York City.Gregory Pace/Shutterstock

Two months after he was fired from CNN, Don Lemon hinted that the network let him go because he wasn’t in interested in “platforming liars” on his show.

“I have a responsibility — not only as a journalist, but as an American — to tell the truth and to abide by the promises of the Constitution,” the reporter, 57, said on Saturday, June 24, during his first sit-down interview since his CNN exit. “Because the Constitution says ‘a more perfect union’ — not ‘a perfect union.’ I’m not a perfect person. No one is. In order to fulfill the promise of the Constitution, we have to stand up for what is right. We have to stand up for the truth.”

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Lemon didn’t mention his former employer by name in the interview with ABC’s Memphis affiliate, but he hinted that he and his bosses didn’t see eye-to-eye about who should be featured on the network.

“I don’t believe in platforming liars and bigots and, you know, 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 continued. “I think that would be a dereliction of journalistic duty to do those sorts of things. That is what has gotten me to this point and that is what is going to carry me forward.”

He went on to say that he doesn’t know what’s next for him career-wise but is proud to have held true to his personal beliefs. “To know that I am doing the right thing, that I am standing up and abiding by the Constitution, which my profession demands that I do because we are listed in the First Amendment of the Constitution — which is freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of the press,” Lemon said. “I’m just being me and I’m being honest.”

Lemon was fired from his longtime role at CNN on April 24. In a statement shared via Twitter, he claimed that he learned the news through his agent rather than anyone at the network.

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“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,” he wrote. “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.”

CNN, however, disputed Lemon’s account of his firing in a statement shared via the official Twitter account for the network’s communication team. “Don Lemon’s statement about this morning’s events is inaccurate,” read the statement. “He was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter.”

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Don Lemon attends CNN Heroes All-Star Tribute on December 11, 2022 in New York City. Photo Image Press/Shutterstock

Lemon’s departure came after a series of controversial comments he made on CNN This Morning, which he cohosted with Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins (both of whom are still on the show). In February, 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,” he said 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.”

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He apologized for his comments via Twitter shortly after the broadcast, writing: “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. A woman’s age doesn’t define her either personally or professionally. I have countless women in my life who prove that every day.”

Two months later, Lemon found himself in hot water again after a clash with Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. During a heated a debate over the Civil War and the Second Amendment, Lemon told Ramaswamy, 37, that his arguments about Black Americans were “insulting” and wrong.

Days later, The New York Times reported that the exchange left CNN higher-ups “exasperated” and played a role in Lemon’s departure from the network.

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