The Real Reason CNN's Don Lemon Is Being Axed From His Primetime Slot

CNN anchor Don Lemon has graced our TV screens ever since he landed a primetime slot on the network with his program, "CNN Tonight with Don Lemon," in 2014. At one point, Lemon was earning top ratings on cable TV this year, coming in at the No. 1 slot in the 18-49 demographic, amassing 1.7 million viewers on average, per Journal Inquirer. These numbers came in February, well after Lemon was sued by a bartender in 2021 after allegedly sexual assaulting him at a bar in the Hamptons.

As one of CNN's most recognizable veteran anchors, Lemon continued to score high ratings despite the network dropping in overall ratings, Ad Week reported in April. For instance, that month CNN lost 43% of primetime viewers, but Lemon's show still soared above MSNBC programming in the 25-54 age group.

That being said, it's been a tumultuous time, and changes are continuing to occur on the network. Lemon has been ousted from his longtime primetime gig for daytime, and now he's explaining why.

Don Lemon says he 'was not demoted'

Don Lemon's relationship with CNN has been an interesting one to watch since 2021. In an effort to change CNN's programming from the opinion programs it embraced during the Trump years, the network's new boss, Chris Licht, ousted Lemon from his primetime slot, per the New York Post. Lemon's time on CNN isn't done for good, though, because he's signing on to co-host the network's morning show "New Day," along with anchors Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins. Lemon expressed his views on the situation himself during a recent broadcast, addressing Twitter rumors claiming he was "demoted."

"This is not someone saying, 'You must move to the right, Don Lemon, you must not be so — give so much of your perspective,'" Lemon said on CNN, emphasizing that he chose to make the move to mornings. "None of that has happened ... I was not demoted. This is an opportunity for me to create something around me, and I get to work with two great ladies."

Some Twitter users didn't buy it, seeing it as a punishment for Lemon over his outspoken liberal views. One person tweeted, "Don Lemon gets demoted, losing the highly rated prime time show named after him, to be relegated to a losing morning slot show, that he now shares with people who will push more Tr*mp friendly talking points, in the name of "balance.'" Meanwhile, Lemon's new morning co-anchor Kaitlan Collins tweeted that she was "so thrilled and humbled" by the shakeup.