Suspicions confirmed: CNN host Don Lemon is a terrible person and an even worse colleague, dozens of his current and former coworkers alleged in a Variety exposé published Wednesday. We're not surprised. As the Washington Free Beacon reported in February 2022, CNN is a "clown network run by creeps."
What they're saying: According to Variety, Lemon's current and former colleagues "painted a picture of a journalist who flouted rules and cozied up to power all while displaying open hostility to many female coworkers" while repeatedly managing to "charm his way out of facing any meaningful consequences." Lemon's "troubling treatment of women and unprofessional antics" have been a problem at CNN for "nearly two decades," the report reveals.
Greatest hits: Here are 10 of the most egregious offenses recounted by people who used to work with Lemon at CNN.
1) Jealous creep—Kyra Phillips, who cohosted CNN's Live From weekday show with Lemon, received a number of threatening texts from an unknown number in 2008 after returning from a special assignment in Iraq. "Now you've crossed the line, and you're going to pay," the first text warned.
An internal investigation concluded that Lemon, angry about being passed over for the gig in Iraq, had sent the texts. The findings were never disclosed, but Lemon was abruptly removed as Live From co-anchor and moved to a weekend slot. Through a CNN spokesman, Lemon said that "the alleged incident never occurred and that he was never notified of any investigation."
2) 'Shameless name dropper'—Lemon never misses an opportunity to brag about hobnobbing with famous people. He even taped a hand-written note from Oprah Winfrey's partner Stedman Graham to his work computer so that everyone could see.
3) Litigious liar—Lemon talked about filing lawsuits so often that his colleagues viewed it as an implicit warning not to cross him. For example, he frequently mentioned his successful lawsuit against Tower Records for racial profiling. Lemon also repeatedly claimed to have done the same to the Chicago Police Department, although there is no record of it and the anchor now denies he ever said it.
4) Intern wrangler—Around 2007 Lemon started dating a 22-year-old staffer at CNN. He was 41 at the time, and dating a junior staffer was officially "frowned upon" at the network. "As fast as you could make a rule, Don would bend it," a senior executive at the time told Variety.
5) Do-nothing diva—Colleagues complained of Lemon's constant "diva-like behavior," which included skipping meetings, showing up late, and only caring about his airtime relative to Anderson Cooper and other CNN hosts.
6) Misogynist queen—Lemon called a female producer "fat" to her face and mocked his colleague Nancy Grace by mimicking her on air. Someone who witnessed the incident, which Lemon's coworkers found "shocking," recalls that moment as "the beginning of when you knew that Don was kind of volatile and didn't say good things about women."
Former CNN consultant Goldie Taylor said it seems that "when [Lemon] says something offensive, there's almost always a woman on the other side." Grace, for her part, reportedly thinks Lemon is an "ass" who was always "rude, dismissive, and really unfamiliar with the [news] content being discussed."
7) Racial truther—When CNN tapped Lemon's female rival, Soledad O'Brien, to host the network's Black in America docuseries in 2008, he went on an editorial call with dozens of staffers and argued O'Brien isn't black. (She identifies as "Afro-Cuban.")
O'Brien wasn't on the call, but she told Variety that Lemon has "a habit of saying idiotic and inaccurate things, so it sounds pretty on brand for him." Lemon denied discussing her racial background "in a derogatory way."
Lemon parting? CNN has already fired a number of partisan hacks as it attempts to rebrand as a respectable news network. Many have speculated that Lemon could be next on the chopping block, particularly after his most recent gaffe—suggesting that Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley "isn't in her prime" because she is a 51-year-old woman.
Why hasn't he been fired already? Probably because he is black. And gay. And apparently very litigious.
Bottom line: It's always been fairly obvious that Lemon is an obnoxious and entitled moron, but it's nice to see it confirmed by all the coworkers he's annoyed throughout his upward-failing career.