‘They Needed Two People to Replace Me’: Don Lemon Feels ‘Vindicated’ By Ousting of Former Boss Chris Licht In First Interview Since Being Replaced on ‘CNN This Morning’

Don Lemon recently had an interview on New York Magazine’s “Pivot” podcast with Kara Swisher, where he discussed his post-CNN life and how he felt about the company’s recent moves. 

The sit-down with the political journalist — his first interview since his replacement on his former morning show was announced — saw him initially asked to share what he believes led to his abrupt firing back in April, which he blames on the company wanting to go in another “direction.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 26: Don Lemon attends the 2023 Time100 Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 26, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
Ousted talk show host Don Lemon says he feels “vindicated” by firing of his former boss Chris Licht. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

“CNN’s … the strategy and their content and the direction that they wanted to go in, I was not a part of that. That they did not want me a part of that,” he continued. “It’s obvious that they did not want me to be a part of that. That’s the real issue that happened.”

Lemon said it was a “bit surprising” that the network wanted to move in a “certain direction.”

Related: Ousted Journalist Don Lemon Calls Out CNN In First Interview Since His Exit, Says He’s Against ‘Platforming Liars and Bigots’

When asked how he felt about the firing of his former boss Chris Licht just months after he was let go, the talk show host laughed profusely. He then encouraged listeners to read the articles about Licht’s behavior and his time as CEO.

“They’re gone now,” he stated to Swisher. “So do I feel vindicated in that sense? Yes, I do.” 

Some viewers connected Lemon’s ouster to his comments about presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s not being in her “prime” and his debate over Black history with another candidate, Vivek Ramaswamy. 

Lemon said anchors say things all the time that may come “out wrong or that you’d wish you’d said in a different way.” He admits he’s made mistakes before, but he’d always apologize or explain himself.

But this time, it was different. “I was never allowed to address the issue on the air. I wish that I could have, but I was never allowed,” said Lemon about the Haley comment.

On the other hand, Swisher said, “Lots of anchors, not just you, have had issues, you know, said things. Obviously the Nikki Haley comments, I think it was just used as a predicate to move you along. Or the Vivek Ramaswamy ones, which I watched again and thought I’m not sure what’s wrong here.”

Lemon went on to share that his favorite boss was former CNN CEO Jeff Zucker, “who wanted us to be ourselves.”

“And if we got something wrong, we apologized, we explained it, and we moved on,” Lemon said. “Doesn’t have to be the end of the world or a big issue unless you’re looking for a reason to get rid of someone.”

“I don’t discuss CNN,” the 57-year-old continued. “I look to the future. I live in the present I look to the future I don’t look back. I had … almost 17 great years at CNN. The last part it wasn’t so great, but hey, it is what it is.”

Speaking of the future, the network’s chief White House correspondent Phil Mattingly was announced as Lemon’s replacement and the new host of “CNN This Morning” alongside original co-host Poppy Harlow.

When asked if he had any advice for the new blood coming on the channel, Lemon joked, “They needed two people to replace me! Kidding.”

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The hiring of Mattingly caused some controversy because he was replaced by a white male on the morning slot.

Meanwhile, Lemon’s fans did not hold back voicing their displeasure with his replacements on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

“Miss your voice on CNN! Can’t stand the show in your old time slot.”

“You don’t how much you are missed!!! You look fantastic and relaxed…#MSNBC, make him an offer!!”

“Your voice is definitely missed @donlemon!!”

“Oh gosh  sorry but Phils so jumpy and boring . Phil in place of Don Lemon is really really bad.”

“Please stop living your best life ever this summer and return to TV soon. You are missed.”

Elsewhere during the interview, Lemon revealed that he’s “been traveling” a lot. When Swisher asked about what’s next for his career, and he said nothing of recent rumors about him being the first male host of “The View.”

“I want to do something next that scares the s—t outta me,” Lemon explained. “I had a very successful career in cable news for a long time. I got to say and do exactly what I wanted to. I have and had a very important voice that most people don’t get to hear on that platform and still don’t.”

“I would like to be able to reach a bigger and different audience,” he added.

Swisher also recalled a 2021 interview between the two where she asked where Lemon saw himself in the future, and he brought up the idea of a Don Lemon subscription service. Will we be seeing “Don Lemon+” soon?

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