Tensions between fired CNN host Don Lemon and network boss Chris Licht date back at least to last fall, when a wardrobe dispute erupted during a rehearsal, according to a new report. .
In early November, during a final rehearsal before the launch of CNN This Morning, Lemon baffled producers by returning to set after a break wearing a white jacket with a fur collar over a turtleneck, Atlantic reported Friday.
‘What the fuck is he wearing?’ blurted out Licht in the control room, according to first-hand testimony from Atlantic writer Tim Alberta, who was working there on a long profile of Licht.
A junior producer hesitantly relayed Licht’s concern through Lemon’s earpiece, drawing a “vexed” look from the CNN host as he said, “Don, uh, we’re not too mad about the jacket here. ”
Lemon was fired from CNN in April after a 17-year stint there, in a campaign widely seen as part of Licht’s campaign to undermine the network’s liberal image and reinvent it as a as a media-centric, fact-oriented news organization.
A new report details behind-the-scenes tensions between Don Lemon (center) and CNN boss Chris Licht during a rehearsal for CNN This Morning last fall
Licht, 51, took over as chairman and CEO of CNN Worldwide in February 2022, following the firing of his predecessor Jeff Zucker.
A representative for Lemon did not immediately respond to a DailyMail.com request for comment Friday afternoon.
Alberta’s first-hand account details a number of frictional incidents between Licht and Lemon during rehearsal, which took place four days before the launch of CNN’s morning show featuring Lemon, Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow on November 8.
After Lemon removed the offending jacket during another break, the host returned for another segment which Licht watched skeptically.
The segment questioned why rapper Kanye West only faced backlash and severed sponsorship ties after his anti-Semitic rants last fall, and didn’t face similar furor over his previous offensive statements about slavery.
‘Do you think if I’m on my way to work, at 7:40 in the morning, I have time to absorb that?’ Licht asked a producer in the control room.
Lemon kicked off the segment by shoving the opening line, prompting Licht to remark, “read the fucking teleprompter.”
As Lemon delivered a monologue alongside a graphic of a tortured slave, Licht couldn’t contain his disapproval, saying, “Far too long – and it’s morning time.” It’s morning television.
At another point in the rehearsal, Licht reportedly reflected in frustration on Lemon’s penchant for having an opinion on every segment.
“I’ll tell Don the biggest mistake is commenting after every story for the sake of commenting after every story,” Licht said in the control room.
‘Don’t tell me, ‘Oh, that’s awful.’ We know it’s awful. If you have a precise idea of something, if you can add something, let us know. But don’t comment on every fucking story,’ he added.
After rehearsal, Licht cornered Lemon near the anchor desk and gave his comments, saying he wanted less commentary and to keep things lighter for morning viewers.
Lemon seemed hesitant and replied, “I don’t want to preach in the morning, but I want to hold people accountable.”
Lemon is seen with former co-host Poppy Harlow. He allegedly angered Licht by wearing a jacket with a fur collar over a turtleneck to a rehearsal
Licht, 51, took over as chairman and CEO of CNN Worldwide in February 2022, following the firing of his predecessor Jeff Zucker over an undisclosed romance with his top lieutenant.
A former executive producer of MSNBC’s Morning Joe and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Licht was shortlisted for CNN’s top job by Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav. Discovery.
Under Zaslav, Licht’s mission has been to steer CNN toward more objective media coverage and to try to win over more conservative voters.
But the hallmark of that campaign, last month’s CNN town hall interview with Donald Trump, drew a backlash from some of the network’s reporters.
They criticized the format, in which Trump attacked interviewer Collins as a “mean person” and repeated lies about the election in front of an audience of cheering fans.
Veteran correspondent Christiane Amanpour publicly criticized City Hall in her remarks to graduate students at Columbia University’s graduate school of journalism.
Lemon has not announced plans for his next move following his firing from CNN.