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CNN's Lemon defends network from 'boys' club' criticism

CNN's Lemon defends network from 'boys' club' criticism
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CNN host Don LemonDon Carlton LemonOfficer who responded to Capitol mob urges leaders to recognize 'courage' of law enforcement CNN's Jake Tapper questions giving some GOP leaders airtime CNN's Don Lemon blows up over Santorum remarks MORE pushed back against questions from New York Times podcast host Kara Swisher in an episode of "Sway" published Thursday that addressed criticism of the network from former host Brooke Baldwin.

Lemon was asked by Swisher during the interview what he thought about criticism of the network's male-dominated executive structure, which Swisher referred to as a "boys' club," which Baldwin made during an interview earlier in April with Ms. Magazine.

"Brooke Baldwin, one of your fellow anchors who’s leaving CNN this month essentially said that the network is a boys’ club. I’m going to put you in the man box right now. You pointed out the most influential and highest paid anchors there are men. CNN does not have any female anchors in prime-time, 8:00 to 11:00 slot. Do you see that as an issue?" Swisher asked Lemon.

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"Well, a couple of things," Lemon responded. "I don’t know everybody else’s salary. So I can’t say that it’s a, you know, that it’s a boys’ club. I just got there."

Swisher then pressed Lemon again on whether a woman should replace CNN's Jeff Zucker, who plans to step down as the network's president at the end of 2021.

"Should a woman be running the network? And how do you square the circle of not having ... you know, women are just second-class citizens in the CNN universe," Swisher charged.

"Well, I think we have had women who have run the network," Lemon responded. "I mean, Janelle Rodriguez ran part of the network. My EP [executive producer] is a woman."

"So we have plenty of women in positions of power in the network. Now at the executive ranks, I don’t know enough about the organizational chart to tell you that. But listen, my CMO [chief marketing officer] is a woman, Allison Gollust, and she is a huge influence on the network. ... Should the network be run by a woman? Of course, a very qualified woman. I would love to see a woman run the network," Lemon continued.

In her own remarks about the network's leadership structure during a Ms. Magazine podcast interview earlier in April, Baldwin was less direct in her criticism while pointing out that CNN's highest-paid executives were all men.

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“The most influential anchors on our network, the highest-paid, are men. My bosses, my executives are men. The person who oversees CNN dayside is a man, and my executive producer for 10 years is a man,” she said in the interview.

Baldwin went on to say that some progress was being made at the network in terms of women attaining higher-paid and more senior positions.

"We have a woman who is in charge of CNN Digital, CNN.com. We have now a woman who is in charge of most of domestic newsgathering. So, like, little by little, by having women in places of power," said Baldwin.