Don Lemon hits back at Variety’s ’15-year-old gossip’ story

Don Lemon’s team is hitting back at a report alleging the CNN anchor has a history of misogynistic actions, “diva behavior” and more at work, calling the claims “blatantly false anecdotes.”

The veteran news anchor was the subject of a scathing report on Wednesday from Variety, which said he had compiled the stories of more than a dozen former and current Lemon colleagues who “painted the portrait of ‘a journalist who flouted the rules and moved closer to power while displaying open hostility towards many female colleagues.

The report also alleged that the 57-year-old reporter, who survived CNN’s regime changes, repeatedly charmed himself to “avoid facing meaningful consequences.”

But a representative for Lemon objected to these “reckless” characterizations shortly after the report was released.

“The story, which is riddled with blatantly false anecdotes and no concrete evidence, is based entirely on 15-year-old anonymous gossip with no source or basis,” the rep said in a statement to The Times on Wednesday.

“It’s unbelievable and disappointing that Variety is so reckless,” the rep added.

The statement follows Lemon’s brief hiatus in February following sexist remarks he made on air about former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a 51-year-old Republican presidential candidate. years which he says is past “its prime”. Lemon returned to “CNN This Morning” a few days later after the cable news network said he would be undergoing “formal training” from CNN’s parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery.

The former ‘Don Lemon Tonight’ host was attempting to criticize ageism linked to Haley’s claims that political leaders over the age of 75 should be required to take proficiency tests, but his remarks – which confounded data on a woman’s supposed sexual bounty – created an uproar among CNN. employees, including her co-presenters.

This led to an apology on Twitter from the anchor, but no on-air acknowledgment of her mistake. Many colleagues privately called for Lemon’s ouster, and there were questions about how Lemon survived the network’s major regime change last year, Variety reported. This after CNN fired a colleague of Lemon’s, former anchor Chris Cuomo, for advising his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was facing sexual harassment allegations.

Variety’s report alleged that Lemon, whose star rose as he publicly confronted then-President Trump, treated women in a troubling manner and engaged in unprofessional or unstable behavior. Most of the specific allegations were denied by a CNN spokesperson who was quoted throughout the article.

The post included a story alleging Lemon, who is black, got upset when then-coworker Soledad O’Brien landed the hosting duties for the high-profile “Black in America” ​​docuseries from the network, launched in 2008. Lemon, the alleged outlet, suggested during an editorial call with about 30 staff members that his Afro-Cuban colleague was not black.

“Don has a long history of saying silly and inaccurate things, so that sounds pretty good to him,” O’Brien told Variety of the alleged remarks, which were attributed to two witnesses who heard the incident. call.

The CNN spokesperson told Variety that Lemon denied making “disparaging” remarks about O’Brien’s legacy.

The spokesperson also denied allegations of hostile behavior by Lemon — including allegedly sending threatening and anonymous text messages — toward his “Live From” co-anchor Kyra Phillips in 2008. At the time, Lemon was abruptly removed from the show and moved to weekends. Phillips declined to comment for Variety’s story.

Times writer Stephen Battaglio contributed to this report.

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