After Don Lemon‘s abrupt exit from CNN, his CNN This Morning cohosts addressed his absence head-on during the Tuesday, April 25, episode of the show.
“Good morning, everyone,” Poppy Harlow began at the top of the broadcast. “Welcome to CNN This Morning. We’re so glad you’re with us. And we do begin though with news about this show. As you may have heard yesterday, CNN parted ways with anchor Don Lemon. In a statement, CNN CEO Chris Licht thanked Don for his contributions over the past 17 years, writing in part, ‘Don will forever be a part of the CNN family. We wish him well and will be cheering him on in his future endeavors.’”
Kaitlan Collins then chimed in to echo Licht’s sentiments, adding: “Of course Don was a big part of this show over the last six months. He was one of the first anchors on CNN to have me on his show. That’s something I’ll obviously never forget. I agree with Chris. We wish him the best.”
Harlow, 40, went on to say that she and Collins, 31, “certainly” agree with Licht’s statement. “Don was one of my first friends here at CNN,” the Yale Law School graduate continued. “I’m so thankful to have worked alongside him and for his support for nearly 15 years here and I wish him all good things ahead.”
The Minnesota native added that she and her remaining cohost are “really proud” of CNN This Morning, which will continue without Lemon, 57. “We are so proud of the dedicated team that works around the clock to bring you the news every morning and our priority is you, the viewer,” Harlow said. “We’re grateful you welcome us into your home each morning.”
Before jumping into the day’s headlines, Collins added, “This morning we want to keep the focus on the news, where that belongs, so let’s get to it. CNN This Morning starts right now.”
CNN announced on Monday, April 24, that the network had “parted ways” with Lemon, who joined the news organization in 2006. The Brooklyn College alum, however, claimed that he was fired in a statement shared via Twitter.
“I was informed this morning by my agent that I have been terminated by CNN,” he wrote. “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.”
Lemon, who was part of the CNN This Morning broadcast earlier on Monday, continued: “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.”
Shortly after the journalist shared his side of the story, CNN denied his version of events without getting into specifics about what was incorrect. “Don Lemon’s statement about this morning’s events is inaccurate,” read a tweet shared by the network’s communications team on Monday. “He was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter.”
After Lemon’s departure made headlines, some of his fellow journalists, including Megyn Kelly, defended him. “I mean, everybody knows I’m not exactly Don Lemon’s fan, but he’s not wrong … if that’s true,” the former Fox News host, 52, said during the Monday episode of SiriusXM’s The Megyn Kelly Show. “[He] was just told by his agent he was fired and [the network] didn’t have the balls to tell him man to man. I mean, that’s just classless. He’s got a right to complain about that.”
The Settle for More author theorized that “something must have happened” behind the scenes to prompt the decision. “Something else must have come out,” Kelly said. “There must have been something, like a final straw.”
Lemon’s exit came two months after he was briefly pulled from CNN after saying former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley was no longer in her “prime.” The Louisiana native later apologized for the remarks.
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“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,” Lemon tweeted in February. “A woman’s age doesn’t define her either personally or professionally. I have countless women in my life who prove that every day.”