After making a name for himself through his reporting at several Fox and NBC affiliates through the years, Lemon joined CNN in 2006 and became a prominent host on the network in 2014. One year later, Lemon sparked controversy when he held up a sign with the N-word written in large letters amid a debate about then-President Barack Obama using the term on Marc Maron‘s “WTF” podcast.
Lemon continued to make headlines for onscreen antics — including getting his ears pierced after several shots during CNN’s New Year’s Eve Live broadcast in 2016. Still, the journalist’s career continued to flourish as he went on to host Don Lemon Tonight from 2014 to 2022. In 2022, the network announced CNN This Morning — a new show he would anchor alongside Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow.
That February, Lemon came under fire when he shaded former governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley after she announced plans to run for president.
“She says people, politicians are not in their prime. … Nikki Haley is not in her prime, sorry. A woman is considered to be in her prime in her 20s, 30s and maybe her 40s,” Lemon said during the February 16, 2023, broadcast.
When questioned by Harlow about his remarks regarding the 51-year-old politician, Lemon added: “If you Google, ‘when is a woman in her prime,’ it’ll say 20s, 30s, and 40s. … I’m not saying I agree with that so I think she has to be careful about saying that [politicians aren’t in their prime].”
After missing several broadcasts, Lemon, who apologized for his sexist remark, returned later that month after undergoing “formal training,” per a memo obtained by The Associated Press at the time.
“I was informed this morning by my agent that I have been terminated by CNN,” Lemon wrote in a statement at the time. “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.”
Offscreen, Lemon found love with Tim Malone in 2017. They announced their engagement in 2019.
Scroll through for more on Lemon’s ups and downs: