Ousted CNN host Don Lemon is staging a comeback on X with a new show

Former CNN anchor Don Lemon at his Long Island, N.Y., home in 2020.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Don Lemon is back and Elon Musk has got him.

The popular CNN anchor who was pushed out of the cable news channel last year during the turbulent reign of former chairman Chris Licht announced Tuesday he will return with a three-times-a-week podcast on X, the social media platform owned by Musk.

X, formerly known as Twitter, is paying for the rights to get the podcast, called “The Don Lemon Show,” first. It will be made available to other digital platforms after it premieres on X.

Lemon will join a growing group of news hosts who are using the notoriety they gained on TV to launch their own digital programs where they can have greater freedom to speak their minds. His podcast will launch in February.


Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson launched a program on X after his show was pulled by the conservative news channel in April. Carlson’s inflammatory remarks on immigration, race and the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection had turned the prime-time star into a major headache at the network despite his large following.

Megyn Kelly, another former Fox News host, has become a major player at SiriusXM radio, which also carries her podcast. Kelly’s star rose during her time on Fox News, after which she had a two-year stint at NBC News that was cut short after she defended the use of blackface on Halloween.

The Louisiana native, who joined CNN in 2006 and is the only Black cable news anchor in prime time, is clearly energized by having a role in shaping the current national discourse on race relations.

June 10, 2020

Lemon had a mostly successful 17-year run at CNN, where he became more of a commentator in the later part of his tenure. The network scored the best ratings in its history in 2020 when he held the 10 p.m. time period.

After CNN became part of Warner Bros. Discovery in 2022, the network hired Licht to run the news channel with a mandate to move it more to the political center and feature more Republicans.

Lemon, who is harsh critic of former President Trump, was moved out of his prime-time role in 2022 and onto a new ensemble morning program after being a solo act for years. The belief within much of CNN is that he was being set up to fail.

Lemon’s tenure on the program was short-lived. There were tensions on set and he was nearly fired after he described Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley as a woman “past her prime.”


Lemon hung on, but the ax fell on April 24, the same day Carlson was pulled off his program at Fox. Lemon collected what was left on his CNN salary and began looking at the podcast space for his next move.