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U.S. cable news underwent a massive shakeup Monday morning with Fox News announcing they had "parted ways" with host Tucker Carlson, followed shortly after with CNN host Don Lemon taking to Twitter to share that he had also been ousted from his network.
Carlson and Lemon are no strangers to controversy. Carlson faced an ongoing torrent of accusations ranging from promoting right-wing viewpoints, racism, sexism and hatred for the LGBTQ community following the launch of his show, Tucker Carlson Tonight during 2016. Lemon's termination comes on the heels of accusations made against the prime-time host which involved misogyny and bad behaviour on set.
"I was informed this morning by my agent that I have been terminated by CNN. I am stunned," Lemon wrote in a tweet on Monday.
A closer look at Don Lemon
Lemon joined CNN in 2006 after working for a local NBC station in Chicago. For over eight years, he hosted the late evening commentary program Don Lemon Tonight. During September 2022, CNN announced the show would conclude in the near future as Lemon was set to help launch CNN This Morning.
The primetime host landed himself in hot water this past February when he called 51-year-old Republican presidential candidate and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley "over the hill." Lemon then backed up his comment saying "when a woman is considered to be in her prime — in her 20s, 30s and maybe her 40s."
The remarks sparked public outrage, including from actress Michelle Yeoh, who referenced Lemon's comments during her Oscar's acceptance speech saying "ladies, don't let anybody tell you you're ever past your prime."
Lemon's reputation was further dented when detailed reports of misogynistic behaviour towards his CNN colleagues and unprofessional workplace behaviour surfaced during a special report published in the April edition of Variety.
“As fast as you could make a rule, Don would bend it,” a senior executive told Variety.
The report accused Lemon of calling one of his producers fat to her face, displaying "diva-like behaviour," shameless name dropping and displaying open hostility toward many of his female co-hosts.
Don Lemon’s statement about this morning’s events is inaccurate. He was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter.
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) April 24, 2023
CNN issued a statement via Twitter on Monday in response to Lemon's take of events posted to his social media in the lead-up to his departure.
A closer look at Tucker Carlson
After appearing on CNN's Crossfire in 2004 and Season 3 of Dancing with the Stars, Carlson joined Fox News as a contributor during 2009 making regular appearances on shows like Fox and Friends and would periodically fill in as a substitute host on Hannity.
In 2016, Fox News gave Carlson his own show Tucker Carlson Tonight, which exploded in popularity, ranking as the second most watched show on cable last year, pulling in an average of 3.3 million viewers every night.
The show received wide-spread criticism for Carlson's amplification of racist, anti-immigrant, homophobic and transphobic themes. Advertisers began distancing themselves from Carlson during 2018, when the host told viewers that immigration had made the United States “poorer, dirtier and more divided."
In July of 2020, the show's top writer was ousted after it was discovered that he had posted racist, sexist and homophobic commentaries.
Carlson also faced intense backlash from Democrats and law enforcement officials for staying firm on his stance that the January 6 insurrection had been a "largely peaceful protest."
One week ago, Fox agreed to pay a historic defamation settlement to Dominion Voter Systems totalling USD$787.5 million. Dominion launched a lawsuit against Fox in March of 2021 seeking USD$1.6 in damages alleging that the network pushed 2020 election fraud claims involving their voting machines — despite knowing they were false. Court documents revealed Carlson, along with top Fox anchors and executives had privately denounced the same voter fraud claims the network pushed on air.
Carlson's exit from the show appears to be sudden, as the he gave no indication to viewers during his last show on April 21. Fox News issued a brief statement reading "FOX News Media and Tucker Carlson have agreed to part ways," but offered no further insight.
There was a strong public response to the news circulating of Carlson and Lemon being pulled from cable.
Former U.S. president Donald Trump appeared to be surprised by the news of Carlson's firing during a segment on Newsmax.
President Trump reacts to Fox News firing Tucker Carlson: "I'm shocked. I’m surprised. He’s a very good person and very good man and very talented."
— Alex Bruesewitz 🇺🇸 (@alexbruesewitz) April 25, 2023
One commentator pointed to the overwhelming response from U.S. politicians Carlson's departure from Fox was generating.
Republicans are having a meltdown over Tucker Carlson getting fired from Fox News. It’s hilarious to watch! But the rest of America and I are celebrating 👇 pic.twitter.com/eb85dq3l3d
— Harry Sisson (@harryjsisson) April 25, 2023
Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz said that Carlson and his platform played an important role in public policy choices the government made.
I cannot overstate the importance that @TuckerCarlson had on public policy choices we made in the government.
Millions of Americans, myself included, tuned in every night to hear him share unapologetic conservative values.
We will continue to follow him wherever he goes next!… pic.twitter.com/7F4phIMB8a
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) April 25, 2023
Others weighed in on his various controversies.
Tucker Carlson is the worst our nation has to offer. For too long he was a one man ministry of propaganda for the MAGA movement. While yesterday was a good day for democracy, Fox remains one of the most significant threats to democracy facing the nation.pic.twitter.com/U81htgMkm0
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) April 25, 2023
— The Chanteezy Is Real ♉️ (@iamchanteezy) April 25, 2023
I ask New Yorkers about Tucker Carlson getting fired by FOX NEWS. pic.twitter.com/PUU8BAfxtF
— Walter Masterson (@waltermasterson) April 25, 2023
Social media users were not particularly feeling pity for Don Lemon's firing with one user tweeting some of Lemon's on-air commentary left her "dumbfounded."
He got fired for being unprofessional and arrogant on numerous occasions. Some of the stuff he said left me dumbfounded. Just know it’s been a long time coming and their ratings didn’t help.
— Ldogg256 (@ldogg256) April 25, 2023
Republican Nikki Haley saw this as an opportunity to get the last word in after being called "past her prime" by the primetime host earlier this year.
To women everywhere, don’t ever let anyone tell you you're past your prime.
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) April 24, 2023
One user appeared surprised it took CNN until today to let the host go.
You were so biased in your reporting that you became a joke. An embarrassment. I’m surprised you lasted as long as you did.
— Michael Schweitzer (@mikeridebike) April 25, 2023
Others weighed in on his controversies.
Folks acting like Don Lemon some type of Black hero and this the Don Lemon I remember. pic.twitter.com/xGPncETtYv
— Vida 🌟 AKA Podcast Bae 🎙️🎧 (@LifeStarMedia) April 25, 2023
Some Twitter users suggested the two hosts should launch a podcast or a show together.
— Rolando Maldonado (@Rolando63796627) April 25, 2023