Don Lemon lost his primetime show in CNN’s shakeup. He was moved to the morning show in what many believe is a setup so CNN has an excuse to cut him loose after he bombs.
Lemon denies he was demoted and offered kind words for his new boss Chris Licht: “I really like Chris. When I read stories about what’s happening at CNN and about Chris and what he’s doing, I think it’s unfair. I think people should give him a chance. Everyone has a new vision when they come in as a new boss. Let’s see what his vision is and how it plays out.”
But what he told Max Tani of Semafor won’t sit well down in Mar-a-Lago because Lemon said Trump didn’t have the courage to come on his failed primetime show.
TANI: You’re launching a new morning news show in 2022. Television news audiences are shrinking.
And the previous morning show was lower than the two competitors on cable. How are you going to approach the format differently, and why do you think it’ll work?
LEMON: I’m just going to be myself. It seems to have worked for the past however many decades in the business.
I’m really not concerned about the ratings.
I’m concerned about making it the best morning show possible and appealing to multiple demographics and people who are interested in other things than raw, tribal politics.
TANI: Throughout the previous administration, you would occasionally butt heads with Trump. You covered politics quite a bit on your primetime show.
Was this something you got tired of?
LEMON: I would be lying to you if I didn’t say that was a factor.
I never really butted heads with the last president.
He didn’t have the courage to come on and take hard questions from CNN and me and my show.
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?
Was I tired of it?
In some ways, yeah it’s gotten old. But I also think we were transitioning to a different time.
It was frustrating to say the least, not that I wasn’t committed to doing it in prime time.
But after Donald Trump wasn’t president anymore, and we had a war in Ukraine — that changed our approach to what we did in primetime, which was not starting every single night with a monologue about Donald Trump and how bad he was and how terrible things were in the country.
So I was ready to move on and I think the audience is ready to move on as well.
And even if he comes back, I think there’s a different approach that can be taken in primetime and in the mornings.
The morning gives me more latitude to educate and elevate the conversation.
See the full interview here.