Don Lemon Allegedly Angers Warner Bros. Discovery's CEO With Sexism Controversy, Job in Peril

Though CEO Chris Licht is devoted to CNN's scandal-ridden star Don Lemon, his superior might have Lemon on the chopping block after he said women are in their primes in their "20s, 30s, and maybe 40s," reported. When CNN's problematic former head Jeff Zucker was forced to resign, Warner Bros. Discovery's President David Zaslav pitched Licht as the replacement. Following an investigation into former anchor Chris Cuomo, the latter resigned in February 2022 after his secret affair with a network colleague was revealed. Two sources said that after Licht was hired, Zaz made it clear he wanted to revamp the struggling network to make it less polarizing after Cuomo was fired for trying to cover up his brother's sexual misconduct scandal — and Lemon's prime-time gig didn't fit the mold, according to Puck News. Licht conceived a compromise to make the star the face of his new flagship morning show. In light of Warner Bros. Discovery's financial difficulties, Licht could not ignore the fact that Lemon remained a popular personality regardless of all his blunders, the outlet reported. In the end, Lemon needed to be convinced, Puck News reported. Despite the downward trend of CNN's prime-time ratings following Donald Trump, he needed assurances that the morning show would help him further his career and build his brand, even though he was already somewhat discouraged. 

To attract Lemon, Licht invited him to guest-host on the morning show several times, offered encouraging words after each appearance, and finally promised him a salary increase along with a contract extension. Furthermore, he assured him that prime-time interviews and special events would remain available. By mid-September, Lemon agreed with Licht's reasoning. CNN characterized Lemon's move as a promotion to the media, even though many media insiders interpreted it otherwise. In contrast, Puck News reasoned that Lemon had the best possible option at New CNN if it worked. Ultimately, if Lemon hit a new level if he connected with his co-hosts, and if Licht lived up to his reputation as an expert in morning shows, it could prove the most brilliant move of his career. However, it was apparent that Lemon, 56, was uncomfortable with his new job from the outset. Initially, under the impression that his name would appear in the show's title, he was upset to learn he was sharing the bill with two less experienced co-hosts, Poppy Harlow, 40, and Kaitlan Collins, 30, under the CNN This Morning moniker, the outlet reported. Further, Lemon, who had a stellar reputation as a prime-time solo performer, struggled to share the spotlight with Collins, who was learning a new job as an anchor despite her star power as a correspondent. 

Following their December 8 broadcast, Lemon allegedly "screamed" at Collins, scolding her for "interrupting" him. The confrontation left her "visibly upset" and staffers "shaken." Upon learning of Lemon's temper tantrum, Licht instructed a producer to send Don home for the day. It was an upside that this conflict was being played in front of a shrinking audience. Currently, CNN This Morning has the lowest rating of any morning show on the network in a decade. Throughout the Haley crisis, Licht once again saved Lemon from cancellation and offered him a second chance. Zaslav has remained steadfastly loyal to Licht, who appears to be showing similar dedication toward Lemon. Sources familiar with the view inside the Zaslav inner circle told Puck News Lemon is thought to be responsible for both the situation as well as the drama between him and his co-hosts. Considering the parent company's initial cautiousness about Lemon, he may not get another chance.