Don Lemon’s colleagues weigh in on the CNN anchor’s history of problematic behavior

In a Variety feature released on Wednesday, several of Don Lemon’s colleagues reveal details of troubling incidents — many towards women — from throughout his career as a CNN anchor.

According to the report, Lemon has built a reputation as someone who would pepper workdays with “diva-like” behavior, fits of malicious destruction and misogynistic comments about women’s appearances — in once instance, calling a producer fat right to her face. 

Soledad O’Brien, who landed the hosting gig for CNN’s “Black in America” docuseries in 2008, is included in Variety’s coverage as someone who experienced first-hand abuse from Lemon. Described as being “upset that O’Brien landed the gig,” he “suggested O’Brien isn’t Black” during an editorial call with roughly 30 other network employees.

O’Brien, who wasn’t on the call herself, spoke of the incident to Variety saying “Don has long had a habit of saying idiotic and inaccurate things, so it sounds pretty on brand for him.” 

Later on Wednesday, after a Twitter user pointed out that O’Brien re-tweeted the article containing her quote about Lemon, she doubled-down on the sentiment in a reply saying “It’s a solid quote.”

In reference to the above incident, a spokesperson for CNN said “Don, Soledad and others have in the past correctly referred to her Afro-Cuban heritage as it is a unique part of her personal story. But Don denies making any related remark in a derogatory way.” 

Other Lemon-isms highlighted in the feature include one in which the anchor texted “Now you’ve crossed the line, and you’re going to pay for it” to co-anchor Kyra Phillips while jealous she’d been given an assignment in Iraq that he wanted for himself. In addition to the threatening message, he also tore up photos Phillips kept in her desk in a fit of rage.

“Don says the alleged incident never occurred and that he was never notified of any investigation. CNN cannot corroborate the alleged events from 15 years ago,” a correspondent for the network said in a quote to Variety regarding the above. Phillips herself gave no further comment.

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Back in February, Salon’s Melanie McFarland reported on an incident with Lemon in which he referenced Nikki Haley as being “past her prime” at 51-years-old.”

“Don Lemon was always going to say something like this because he always has and likely always will,” McFarland writes. “That means he doesn’t belong on morning television, where the audience traditionally skews female. Guess how many of those viewers Lemon would consider to be in or out of their ‘prime,'”

Cementing all of this to Variety, Goldie Taylor, “a former CNN consultant who appeared frequently as a guest on Lemon’s weekend show” caps it in a quote saying, “I’m never surprised when Don gets in trouble. It makes me neither happy nor sad to see him undermine his own success. There was a time when it appeared that Black people were most often the subject of his ire. Now, it seems to me that when he says something offensive, there’s almost always a woman on the other side.”  

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