Don Lemon says CNN’s new gig is a “promotion” despite losing the primetime show

Don Lemon wrapped up Thursday night, insisting his new job as co-host of CNN’s morning show was a “promotion” — even as the network canceled his primetime show.

CNN boss Chris Licht on Thursday unveiled the network’s program overhaul, which will see the left-leaning primetime presenter snapped from his plum solo slot and switched to a newly created morning show he will co-host with Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow.

“I’ve been presented with an opportunity that I can’t pass up on this network.” Lemon insisted on his rating-challenged 10 p.m. show Don Lemon Tonight.

He continued, “And we have a new boss who’s a morning show impresario, and he wants a morning show to initiate editorial leadership of the network every day, and I’m honored that he would ask me to do that. ”

Licht has been tasked with driving ratings at third-ranked CNN, which includes reimagining the cable news network’s primetime programming and reinventing its struggling morning show New Day. Part of this reinvention involves moving away from scholarship and toward centrist, fact-based reporting.

In recent weeks, the network has canned Brian Stelter, the outspoken host of now-defunct Reliable Sources, and dropped both John Harwood and the scandal-ridden Jeffrey Toobin amid rumors that the New Day host John Berman and Brianna Keilar were up next.

Don Lemon
Don Lemon slammed rumors that his new job as co-host of the CNN morning show was a demotion.

But Lemon told viewers Thursday that moving to the new morning show was his choice.

“For everyone out there saying oh he moved me, and without mine – he asked me and I said yes. I could have said no,” Lemon said. “This is my show. I have a contract for this show. I decided that I would approach him and take this journey with him.”

“This is not someone who moves me,” the presenter continued. “And by the way, this isn’t someone who says, ‘You have to go to the right, Don Lemon. And you don’t have to be like that – give as much of your perspective.’ None of that happened. All of this is fodder for Twitter, which isn’t real. So stop that.

“I wasn’t demoted, none of that. This is an opportunity,” Lemon added. “That’s a promotion.”

Chris light
CNN boss Chris Licht is in the process of redesigning the ailing cable news network.
Getty Images for Warner Bros. Tue

But naysayers pointed to Stelter, who also had three years left on his contract when he was ousted last month.

CNN didn’t comment on Lemon’s new contract. Lemon’s agent also declined to comment when asked if the anchor’s salary was going up.

Lemon – who often expressed his liberal views on his show – topped the lowest-ranking prime-time program in August, averaging 660,000 viewers, finishing a distant third behind Fox and MSNBC.

Sources recently told The Post that Licht “has his work to do” as he tries to boost the network’s ratings.

In August, Fox News dominated with nine shows making the top 10 highest-rated cable news shows. Only MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reached fifth place with 2.7 million viewers, behind Fox’s “The Five” (3.4 million), “Tucker Carlson Tonight” (3.3 million), “Hannity” (2, 9 million) and “Jesse Watter’s Primetime”. ‘ (2.9 million).

Don Lemon shared screen with Laura Coates during handoff.
Don Lemon explained during the handoff to Laura Coates why his new gig is a “promotion.”
Don Lemon shared screen with Laura Coates
Lemon slammed down any suggestion that his new job was a demotion, despite broader changes at the network under Chris Licht.

The only CNN show to break the top 25 was “Anderson Cooper 360” – at #25 with 950,000 viewers.

Meanwhile, “New Day” ranked 42nd out of 82 cable news programs, reaching a total viewership of 396,000.

CNN didn’t give a start date for the changes, but said it will rebrand “New Day” and update its set later this year. Berman and Keilar remain on the network, Licht said.

Licht is known for his previous success in launching MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and revamping the CBS morning show, then called “CBS This Morning.” Both shows featured lively conversations between the hosts and a wide range of guests on current affairs and the news of the day.

CNN told The Post that the network will announce who will replace Lemon in the coming weeks.

https://nypost.com/2022/09/16/don-lemon-says-new-cnn-gig-is-a-promotion-despite-losing-primetime-show/ Don Lemon says CNN’s new gig is a “promotion” despite losing the primetime show

Emma Bowman

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