Don Lemon says hosting a primetime program on CNN took a toll on his emotions. He says the grind is the reason for his forthcoming move to morning television.
“Look, has it been frustrating over the last couple of years having to deal with politics in the way it’s been dealt with in primetime? Yes. Was I tired of it? In some ways, yeah it’s gotten old,” Lemon told the Semafor news outlet. “I would be lying to you if I didn’t say that was a factor [in moving to mornings.]
That’s a long and dishonest way of saying CNN demoted him.
Lemon is the person who gets broken up with but continues to tell his friends he is the one who broke it off. Several times now he has asked viewers to please believe him, that he chose to leave primetime to host a morning show with Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins.
“I was not demoted. This is a promotion,” Lemon told viewers the day CNN announced the programming change.
Sounds like something someone demoted would say.
Morning television is not an upgrade over primetime. One does not leave a solo show with their name attached to the title — “Don Lemon Tonight” — for an ensemble program called “CNN This Morning.”
Primetime allows a host to monologue during an opening 15-minute block. The solo format granted Lemon autonomy over topic selection and direction. Primetime permitted Lemon to spin the news and push conspiracy theories about Donald Trump and Russia.
Lemon won’t have the same freedom at 6 am ET. A morning program requires fast-paced talking points, back-and-forth dialogue, and an abundance of guests.
In addition, Collins and Harlow will quickly outshine Lemon and his fragile ego. Collins and Harlow are far from intellectuals, but they are more intelligent than Don Lemon. Other than Tiffany Cross, who isn’t?
CNN diminished Lemon by moving him to the morning block. And it’s not because he sought a new opportunity. Rather, the network moved Lemon to bury him.
New network management tasked network CEO Chris Licht with reestablishing CNN’s credibility. Licht responded by firing those perceived to be the most partisan: Brian Stelter, Jeffrey Toobin, and John Harwood.
Licht decided not to fire Lemon, but demote him out of sight. The others weren’t privileged enough to get an opportunity to fail anew.
And he will fail. Who wants to wake up to a whiny, entitled elite while they drink their morning latte?