CNN Demotes Don Lemon to Morning Show

CNN Demotes Don Lemon to Morning Show Don Lemon Don Lemon attends the 2022 White House Correspondents Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton on April 30 in Washington, D.C. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

By Jeffrey Rodack | Thursday, 15 September 2022 01:46 PM EDT

CNN has demoted Don Lemon from his prime-time spot to a new morning show, where he will be one of three co-hosts.

The demotion comes as part of a major overhaul of the news network's programming by Chris Licht, who took over as chair in May.

The New York Times noted the new morning show is Licht's biggest programming move since being named chair. It comes as Licht is still trying to find a host for the 9 p.m. slot left vacant when Chris Cuomo was fired. And Licht will now need to fill Lemon's usual 10 p.m. hour, as well.

Lemon will be joined in the new show by midmorning anchor Poppy Harlow and White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins. The new show is expected to start airing in late October.

Lemon is known for his left-wing rants and verbal attacks on former President Donald Trump. Trump had called Lemon "the dumbest man on television" in July 2019 when the CNN host insinuated the then-president was a racist.

Trump repeated his claim about Lemon's intelligence in January, 2020, by tweeting, "Don Lemon, the dumbest man on television (with terrible ratings!)"

Lemon faced scrutiny in December, 2021, after actor Jussie Smollett testified that the CNN anchor sent him a text warning him that police did not believe his claim about having been the victim of a racist attack, according to Newsweek.

News of Lemon's warning to Smollett drew outrage from conservatives. Some had demanded CNN fire Lemon.

Christian conservative writer Carmine Sabia said at the time: "Jussie Smollett has admitted that CNN anchor Don Lemon warned him that police were suspicious of his story. CNN does not have journalists. It has activists. Time for Don Lemon to follow Chris Cuomo."

And The Hill reported in January, 2020, that a spokesperson for Heritage Action for America on Wednesday blasted Lemon over a segment in which the host laughed after a guest mocked supporters of Trump.

"The CNN segment shows exactly what the elites of America think about the rest of the country," said Noah Weinrich. "They think they're dumb [and] they think they're incapable of governing themselves, but it's rude and it's offensive, and it's just wrong."

Meanwhile CNN needs "actual journalists," billionaire media mogul John Malone told CNBC in a November, 2021, interview in which he explained there is a place for the news channel in the combination of WarnerMedia and Discovery into a new entity, Warner Bros. Discovery. "I would like to see CNN evolve back to the kind of journalism that it started with, and actually have journalists, which would be unique and refreshing," said Malone, who is longtime chair of Liberty Media, which is a major shareholder in Discovery.