CNN fired Don Lemon on Monday after months of controversies surrounding the CNN This Morning anchor. Considering Lemon had survived his sexist comment about women over 50 not being in their prime, on- and off-air dust ups with colleagues, and a scathing article from Variety about his history of misogyny, it seemed like the primetime-turned-morning host was untouchable.
With that in mind, many are speculating that the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was Lemon’s behavior toward GOP presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy during a live interview last Wednesday on CNN This Morning. Lemon grew increasingly frustrated as he and Ramaswamy discussed the civil rights movement, the Second Amendment, and the NRA. Throughout the back-and-forth, Lemon admonished Ramaswamy for speaking about black history, and the conversation culminated with Lemon snapping at his co-host Poppy Harlow as she tried to smooth things over.
On Monday’s program, Ramaswamy joined her to discuss the incident, share whether or not he thinks it led to Lemon’s termination, and offer some insight into what went on behind the scenes.
Did the Ramaswamy Interview Get Lemon Fired?
Calling Lemon’s behavior “offensive,” Megyn said it is clear that he misconstrued the point Ramaswamy was making about the Second Amendment. “You were not trying to speak on behalf of black people, you were talking about America’s history,” she said. “And the reason I go through that exercise is there are several reports out today that this was the last straw for CNN management.”
Ramaswamy told Megyn he believes Lemon’s ouster is a “net positive” and said the interview likely played a role in the decision. In his mind, whether CNN kept or cut ties with Lemon was more a reflection on the priorities of the network than anything else. “I actually want to be really clear about this: it all comes down to what the mission of your organization shows,” he explained.
“If CNN’s mission is to advance a woke, progressive orthodoxy,” Lemon is “a perfectly fine host to have on-air to cut off guests, to tell people they can’t speak based on the color of their skin because that does represent a worldview that exists in the country,” Ramaswamy said. Based on conversations he has had with CNN CEO Chris Licht, however, he does not believe the troubled anchor fit into the new vision for the network. “If [Licht] means when he says… and they want to move towards being a more open platform for diverse views, then I don’t think that type of host actually makes sense in that organization,” Ramaswamy added.
What Happened Behind the Scenes at CNN
In Ramaswamy’s view, Lemon could not handle a conversation with conflicting viewpoints. “I was exposing that history, but that made Don Lemon’s head explode,” he shared. “To him, the Second Amendment is bad, Civil Rights is good, and I’m committing some sort of cardinal sin by mixing the two together, when it’s just a fact of history that actually one was fundamental to securing the other.”
Megyn said Lemon also failed to recognize his role as interviewer. “If he actually expected you to cede the arguments to him because he’s a black man and you’re not, he shouldn’t have had you on the show,” she explained. “He should have just looked into the camera and offered his own opinions on all these matters.” Instead, Ramaswamy was there as an invited guest and asked to give his thoughts. “His intersectionality approach doesn’t work,” she noted. “If you want that, go be a pundit; don’t be an interviewer on a national cable show.”
All of this was seemingly not lost on the CNN This Morning team. “I think it was awkward for everyone there, so I tried to do my part to bring a light-hearted tone,” Ramaswamy shared. He said had “a nice exchange” with Harlow before leaving the set. “I felt bad for her, to be honest, because I think she had been sidelined in the conversation,” he noted. “She was trying her best.” He also exchanged pleasantries with the producers and crew. “Afterwards, I think they reached out to my people who did the scheduling to effectively apologize for that interaction,” he added.
Why the Contentious Interview Was Important
Ramaswamy was clear, however, that he can “handle” the awkwardness and doesn’t need an apology. “I didn’t take particular offense to that exchange,” he said. “I actually found it really useful, and I’m glad we did it.”
He believes the interview was “really important” because it surfaced “hard truths” and “some of these dogmas and unspoken expectations that have otherwise been simmering beneath the surface of American discourse.” Additionally, it also shows – in his view – that there is still some hope for CNN. “We’re having this conversation on the back of CNN making the decision to actually remove Don Lemon from air,” he said. “Hopefully they replace him with somebody who’s a more thoughtful journalist.”
You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Ramaswamy by tuning in to episode 536 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.