Don Lemon surprised fans on Friday night by announcing that he would no longer be hosting CNN Tonight. Lemon has anchored the nightly news show since 2014, and many took his abrupt departure with alarm. However, Lemon later clarified that he is not leaving the CNN network altogether.
Lemon announced his departure from CNN Tonight at the end of his show on Friday, with no additional fanfare or previous warning. He said: "It's been really, really great. This is the last night that will be CNN Tonight with Don Lemon. So, I appreciate all the years of CNN Tonight with Don Lemon but changes are coming, and I will fill you in." Lemon left fans so confused that later, he posted another video on Twitter to clarify the development.
Hey everyone. Not what you think. I’m not leaving CNN. Tune in for the handoff on Monday at 10pE and I’ll explain. pic.twitter.com/oOwDferY2i— Don Lemon (@donlemon) May 15, 2021
"So I got back down to my office after the show — everybody calm down," Lemon said just 15 minutes after the big announcement. "I didn't say I was leaving CNN. I just said it was the end of an era for CNN Tonight with Don Lemon. I am not leaving CNN. So, you will have to tune in Monday at 10 o'clock to see. That's it. So relax, I'm not leaving. I'm not leaving."
Lemon laughed as he reassured fans, who had an immediate and fierce response to his announcement on social media. Many are still speculating about what's next for Lemon and why this change is hitting so abruptly. Many were suspicious of the lack of fanfare compared to other cable news staffing shifts at a similar level.
"Seconds after your announcement I was online trying to figure out where you were going!! Pfew! We Canadians love you! So glad u are not going anywhere!" one person tweeted. Another added: "End your show on a dime with no explanation and then condescendingly tell your listeners to relax and calm down... tune in to your podcast for deets... publicity stunt. I was looking forward to the podcast but this was disappointing behavior."
Reporters from The New York Post have reached out to CNN for a comment, but so far, the network has added nothing to Lemon's announcement. CNN Tonight airs on weeknights from 10 p.m. ET to midnight, and the CNN website still has Lemon listed as the anchor on the landing page and the schedule. More information on Lemon's changing role is expected on Monday, May 17 at 10 p.m. ET on CNN.