Don Lemon will leave CNN, the network announced Monday, just hours after the veteran anchor appeared on what has turned out to be his last show.
Lemon has been under increased scrutiny almost since the beginning of CNN This Morning, which launched in November, for sexist comments made on air. The news of his departure came minutes after Fox News announced it will “part ways” with star host Tucker Carlson, giving this morning’s news a real bloodbath vibe.
“After 17 years at CNN I would have thought that someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly,” he said. “At no time was I ever given any indication that I would not be able to continue to do the work I have loved at the network.”
CNN disputed his version of events, saying that Lemon “was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter.”
Lemon was popular for his fiery political commentary but has come under repeated fire during his time on the morning show, first in December when he said the U.S. men’s national soccer team should get paid more than the women’s team—even though the women are vastly more successful—because the men are “more interesting to watch.”
In February, Lemon said that Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley was “not in her prime,” prompting immediate pushback from his co-hosts, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins. Harlow reportedly left the set after Lemon’s comments.
Lemon was temporarily pulled from the air over his comments and made to undergo “formal training,” although CNN did not specify what kind of training he would get. But this is allegedly not the first time he has made sexist comments.
CNN This Morning was the first time Lemon had co-anchored a show with a woman since he joined the network in 2008, according to a lengthy Variety investigation. He reportedly antagonized his then co-host, Kyra Phillips, because he felt she got better assignments than he did.
Through interviews with former and current colleagues, some of whom spoke anonymously, Variety found Lemon appears to be “a journalist who flouted rules and cozied up to power all while displaying open hostility to many female co-workers.” He reportedly insulted Nancy Grace and Soledad O’Brien, while former CNN correspondent Goldie Taylor said she was “banned from the network” for disagreeing with Lemon.
This post has been updated.