Don Lemon: Trump ‘didn’t have the courage’ to come on my show
CNN anchor Don Lemon this week took a shot at former President Trump ahead of his new role anchoring CNN’s morning program, saying that while he looks forward to starting the next chapter in his career — he hopes it will go beyond “tribal politics.”
“I would be lying to you if I didn’t say that was a factor,” Lemon said of his move to mornings in an interview with news startup Semafor. “I never really butted heads with the last president. He didn’t have the courage to come on and take hard questions from CNN and me and my show. Look, has it been frustrating over the last couple of years having to deal with politics in the way it’s been dealt with in prime time? Yes. Was I tired of it? In some ways, yeah it’s gotten old. But I also think we were transitioning to a different time.”
Lemon, who for the last several years has hosted a show in prime time on CNN, was tapped by the network’s new editorial leadership to host its revamped morning show set to debut this fall.
Lemon, a longtime television news personality has been sharply critical of Trump in recent years, often using his show’s opening monologue to lambast the former president, his policies and his supporters.
Lemon’s move to mornings comes during a time of immense change at CNN, spearheaded by new president Chris Licht, who has raised eyebrows for outlining a new vision for the network. Licht has said CNN should focus more on sobriety in news reports and less on partisan food fights and outrage.
The changes Licht has implemented at CNN also come amid a time of steep rating declines at the network and across the cable news landscape more generally.
“I really like Chris,” Lemon said of his new boss. “When I read stories about what’s happening at CNN and about Chris and what he’s doing, I think it’s unfair. I think people should give him a chance. Everyone has a new vision when they come in as a new boss. Let’s see what his vision is and how it plays out.”
Since he has left office, Trump and his supporters remain highly critical of mainstream media outlets, CNN chief among them. The former president filed a defamation lawsuit in Florida earlier this month against the network over its reporting on his claims about the 2020 presidential election.
Lemon said he was “ready to move on” from prime time. And as for Trump, “even if he comes back, I think there’s a different approach that can be taken in prime time and in the mornings.”
“The morning gives me more latitude to educate and elevate the conversation,” he said.
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