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Don Lemon rejects idea CNN was ever liberal

CNN anchor Don Lemon pushed back on suggestions that the network has had a liberal bias in years past or has changed its editorial strategy under new CEO Chris Licht.

“The word on the street is that you guys aren’t allowed to be liberal anymore,” late-night host Stephen Colbert told Lemon during the anchor’s appearance on his show this week. “Is that the case?”

“I don’t think we ever were liberal,” Lemon replied. “What Chris is saying is that he wants Republicans, sensible Republicans. He wants us to hold people to account.”

Licht’s vision for CNN, Lemon said, is one where people of all viewpoints “feel comfortable coming on and appearing on CNN.”

“So if you invite someone into your house, you want to make them comfortable,” Lemon said. “But by the nature of what we do, we have to hold people to account. That doesn’t mean we’re going liberal or conservative or whatever. It just means that we are doing what we do, and that’s good journalism.”

Lemon’s comments are not the first he has made pushing back on reported tensions within the network about a slew of changes Licht has made since taking over at CNN in June under the new corporate ownership in Warner Bros. Discovery.

“When I read stories about what’s happening at CNN and about Chris and what he’s doing, I think it’s unfair,” Lemon said during an interview earlier this fall. “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.”

In the same interview with news startup Semafor, Lemon took a shot at former President Trump, saying he “didn’t have the courage” to appear on the anchor’s show.

Licht has himself pushed back on suggestions that he or CNN’s corporate leaders are trying to pull the network to the center or appeal to conservatives.

“One of the biggest misconceptions about my vision is that I want to be vanilla, that I want to be centrist. That is bullshit,” Licht told the Financial Times recently. “You have to be compelling. You have to have edge. In many cases you take a side. Sometimes you just point out uncomfortable questions. But either way you don’t see it through a lens of left or right.”

Lemon has emerged as one of CNN’s top talents in recent years, hosting a show in prime time that was often critical of Trump and his allies.

Earlier this year, he was moved from prime time to serve as one of three hosts of CNN’s revamped morning news program, a project Licht spearheaded.

On Monday, Lemon grilled Trump’s deputy secretary of State about the former president’s recent dinner with antisemite Nick Fuentes, telling the former official that “it sounds like you’re making excuses” for Trump after the official suggested Trump was not antisemitic.

Tags Chris Licht CNN Don Lemon Don Lemon stephen colbert Stephen Colbert
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