Lemon gets choked up ‘eulogizing’ ex-boss Zucker; he’s ‘reason you have a gay, black man’ in primetime

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(Video Credit: CNN)

CNN anchor Don Lemon got choked up and teary-eyed on Friday as he mourned the resignation of CNN network president Jeff Zucker at the opening of his show, thanking him for being the “backbone” of CNN and making it possible for a gay, black man to anchor in primetime.

Zucker stepped down on Wednesday giving the dubious excuse that it was due to a “consensual relationship” that he had with chief marketing officer Allison Gollust. The affair was an open secret in the industry and had gone on for a long time. Most don’t believe that is the primary reason that led to him stepping down and there are rumors floating that former anchor Chris Cuomo had a hand in it.

“As part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo’s tenure at CNN, I was asked about a consensual relationship with my closest colleague, someone I have worked with for more than 20 years. I acknowledged the relationship evolved in recent years. I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t. I was wrong,” Zucker confessed to CNN employees. “As a result, I am resigning today.”

CNN was upended by the resignation which followed numerous explosive scandals just before a merger is set to take place with Discovery taking over the network.

Lemon broke his silence on Friday, stating, “Personal message that I want to deliver at the top of the show. A lot of folks have been watching wondering what’s happening. It’s been a really tough day today, and a tough few days for us here at CNN, all week really.”

“I didn’t want to talk about it until tonight. So, the truth is that we’re all heartbroken because we lost our leader here. We lost the man who was the backbone, the glue, and the spirit of this company,” he added.

“The man I personally credit with changing my life, a man who believed in me when nobody else did. He is the reason that you have a gay, black man with two hours of primetime. A show with my name on it. The only anchor of color in primetime and cable news. Think about that. You want to talk about diversity? Here it is. It has been hard to come into work this week not only for me but for so many of us here at CNN, my colleagues – 3,000 of us. More than 3,000 of us.”

He went on to remark that Zucker carried the network through both internal and external events. Zucker also led CNN as ratings for the network cratered and its reputation was permanently savaged. Adding to the damage is the fact that Don Lemon is embroiled in a lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct.

“So, let me just say this to my colleagues who may not have been here as long as I have, the younger folks, who haven’t weathered these storms: I’ve been at this network for almost 16 years,” Lemon continued.

“We have been through ups and downs, ratings highs, ratings lows. Everything. Regime changes. We’ve been through a lot. And through it all, our mission has remained the same, to deliver the facts, to deliver the news. It is what we did when Ted Turner turned the lights on here. It is what we did through two Gulf wars, through 9/11, through Katrina, through an insurrection,” the 55-year-old host said.

“Jeff Zucker may not have launched this network, but he revived it. He made it relevant again. He steadied it for the last decade. He left us with a very good blueprint going forward. So for all of you at home watching, you should know that I and my colleagues will continue to do exactly what he would want us to do, and that is to do what I’m going to do right now, deliver the news, no matter what it is, without fear or favor,” he asserted.

An emotional Lemon ended his eulogy with, “Let’s just move on. Good evening everyone. I’m Don Lemon, and this is CNN.”


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