Don Lemon doesn’t seem to be having a good time lately.
According to the entertainment news website Radar Online, Lemon “went ballistic” after the latest in a string of reports concerning his unprofessional behavior toward his morning show co-hosts was detailed in an in-house CNN newsletter. A “well-placed insider” is quoted as a source, according to Radar Online.
A disaster in the making has been unfolding for Lemon’s professional prospects for the past few weeks, as low ratings for “CNN This Morning” and reports of inappropriate conduct toward co-hosts Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow have made him a potentially destructive member of its staff.
“Tensions on the set of “CNN This Morning” have recently boiled over, with Don Lemon allegedly “screaming” at co-host Kaitlan Collins off-camera during an ugly December incident that has left the cast and crew rattled ever since…” according to the New York Post.
According to two sources with knowledge of the situation, 56-year-old Lemon approached 30-year-old Collins following the show’s Thursday, Dec. 8, broadcast — and unloaded on her in front of staffers as he accused her of “interrupting” him on air.
“Don screamed at Kaitlan, who was visibly upset and ran out of the studio,” one source with knowledge of the skirmish said.
News of the explosive incident made its way up to CNN CEO Chris Licht, who is said to have been appalled by Lemon’s behavior, according to a source. A second source said a producer talked to Lemon at the behest of Licht and told the anchor to take the next day off to “cool off.”
According to a previous report from Radar Online, tensions were present on the show, although in an ambiguous and hazy way.
“Don went into this thinking of himself as Beyoncé and his co-hosts as his backup dancers,” said one of Radar’s informants for a January report.
“That attitude did not fly — especially with Kaitlan,” the source added. “She won’t play second fiddle to Don.”
It’s all coming together now as Radar Online covers the aftermath of the release of the Post’s article last week. One of CNN’s internal newsletters reportedly linked to it.
“Don lost his mind internally and went ballistic at staffers after the CNN newsletter highlighted a story about him screaming,” according to the “insider” in Radar’s article last week.
“Lemon’s way of dealing with a report that his blowups were affecting his co-hosts was to … blow up at staffers. This whole getting-a-clue thing doesn’t seem to be working out for Don,” the Western Journal commented.
But then, we should have known this from the beginning. Lest we forget, here was the host last September, assuring us that his move from prime-time to a morning show was not a demotion:
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) September 16, 2022
Not only was it a demotion, it’s one that’s come with low ratings, to boot. On the week of Jan. 16-22, Lemon’s morning show was crushed by Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” While “Fox & Friends” took an average 1.3 million viewers and 180,000 in the 25-54 demographic, “CNN This Morning” only managed 331,000 average viewers and 85,000 in demographic.
The night after Lemon was told to take a day off to “cool off,” a source said the co-hosts were scheduled to get drinks together and attend a White House press party.
“But the pre-party gathering never happened after the emotional day and they trickled into the bash separately, an insider with knowledge said. After the party, Lemon had a late-night dinner with his agent, Jay Sures, according to sources,” The Post added.
The situation was especially awkward because Collins — a rising star who had most recently served as CNN’s youngest chief White House correspondent — is also represented by the powerful and well-connected Sures. While he dined with Lemon, Collins met with the show’s other co-anchor, Poppy Harlow, the sources said.
“At this point, Kaitlan wants to be on set with Don as little as possible,” a source with knowledge of the situation added. “It’s messy.”
A CNN representative refused to elaborate on the scandal, but noted: “In just three months, these anchors have created a compelling morning show that breaks news and drives the conversation.”
CNN This Morning has had issues since its debut on Nov. 1 and the drama on Dec. 8 wasn’t the first hint of trouble.
“A week earlier, Lemon got into an awkward dispute with Collins and Harlow on air, arguing that the US men’s soccer team should get paid more than the women’s team despite the men’s relative lack of success at the World Cup,” The Post added.
The dustup made headlines, with the Daily Beast quoting Lemon saying the men were “more interesting to watch” — a comment that Lemon quickly walked back and insisted was a joke.
Lemon and Collins have appeared less often on set since the alleged incident.
“Lemon was most recently sent to Memphis to quarterback coverage on the death of Tyre Nichols. Collins had been working remotely from Washington, DC, on and off in January,” according to the Post.