CNN CEO Chris Licht may be delaying the inevitable as “self-righteous” host Don Lemon’s time off-air was extended for “formal training” but may not be enough to satisfy an ultimatum from female staffers who want to see him “make his vacation a permanent one.”
The unfolding drama surrounding Lemon may be reaching its crescendo after his boot from primetime staved off an exit that may yet be in the works. The network has denied such an outcome as a forgone conclusion but Licht released a brief memo late Monday night touching on the immediate future for the “CNN This Morning” cohost, according to The New York Times.
“I sat down with Don and had a frank and meaningful conversation,” he said and noted, “It is important to me that CNN balances accountability with fostering a culture in which people can own, learn and grow from their mistakes. To that end, Don will return to CNN This Morning on Wednesday.”
“We take this situation very seriously,” Licht expressed, explaining that Lemon “has agreed to participate in formal training.”
That announcement meant that the morning show host would remain off the air another day after the network had denied rumors that his remaining sidelined Monday was anything more than a voluntarily extended holiday.
“He’s been chased by paparazzi all weekend,” a spokesperson had said of Lemon weekending in Miami with his partner after controversial remarks about women. “He’s been under attack. He’s not ready to go back on air.”
CNN extends Don Lemon’s ‘holiday’ denies rumors he’ll be benched over sexist remarks https://t.co/6nvFAfYZTo
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) February 20, 2023
The network’s claims belied the fact that staffers weren’t ready to have him back, even after he offered an obligatory mea culpa for suggesting women had a professional expiration date in line with the years of their sexual prime.
“What I said came out wrong and I wish I hadn’t said it,” he tried. “I believe women of any age can do anything they set their minds to. The people I am closest to in this organization are women.”
“Closest to” seemed to be the operative phrase as Fox News reported an insider’s account that he has “no defenders” at the network where everyone has remained “pissed” and, if he were shown the door, “it would probably be welcomed by a lot of people.”
“I think there’s an array of people who maybe like him personally, not professionally,” was the argument.
The DailyMail presented much the same as sources they spoke with said, “if Don doesn’t go, others have threatened to quit.”
“People are hurt by his actions and are not going to let this go. It is like every woman over 50 in America has taken this as a personal insult. The female staffers at CNN definitely have. He needs to make his vacation a permanent one,” the outlet was told.
“There is not one person at CNN who thinks that he should remain on air. He knows how badly he screwed up and he also knows that he cannot talk his way out of this one,” the source said. “His apology meant nothing.”
Another contended “the women of CNN are angry. He’s made it impossible to do their jobs. He’s an embarrassment to the network and needs to go,” and employees weren’t the only ones fed up as the DailyMail was told CNN had been “flooded like a tidal wave with extremely angry and offended loyal viewers.”
“Don has been skating on thin ice for so long and many wanted him fired in December when he freaked out on Kaitlan Collins for no reason. She was in tears and it was so inappropriate,” an insider said.
“Regardless of his political affiliation, his comments that Nikki Haley being past her prime were disgusting. Poppy was fuming, as she should be, and still is,” they continued. “He is rude, self-righteous and clearly sexist. Nikki did the right thing by calling him out.”
The source added, “His apology meant nothing and there is so much pressure for him to be canned. It would be a shock if he wasn’t.”
A former CNN executive suggested to Fox News Digital that it would be in the best interest amid failing ratings for the network to make the move to oust Lemon. “Don Lemon’s buffoonery has got to be the worst morning show debacle since Deborah Norville replaced Jane Pauley on the ‘Today’ show. Chris Licht should cut his losses and fire Don before Don subjects CNN’s dwindling audience to more of this misogynistic psychodrama.”
However, another suggested he has remained “untouchable” and “part of a protected class,” a sentiment a CNN spokesperson neither confirmed nor denied as they told the DailyMail “it is patently false to say Don is being pushed to resign.”
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