Don Lemon Addresses Move From Primetime to New CNN Morning Show: ‘I Was Not Demoted’

Don Lemon Tonight (Credit: CNN)

Shortly after CNN announced it was canceling Don Lemon Tonight and Don Lemon would move to the morning shift, the longtime CNN host addressed the changes.

Near the end of Thursday night’s episode of his primetime show, Lemon tossed to the next hour hosted by Laura Coates, who brought up his new role.

“Hey, Don Lemon, no, should I say good morning, Don Lemon?” Coates said. Lemon joked that he didn’t know what she was talking about, before saying he was asked not told to host a new morning show and leave his primetime slot after eight years.

“It’s bittersweet for me because I work with one of the best teams in this business and we built this show out of nothing,” Lemon said. “But I was presented with an opportunity that I can’t pass up at this network. We have a new boss who is a morning show impresario and he wants a morning show that will kick off the editorial direction of the network every single day, and I am honored that he asked me to do it.”

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Lemon then addressed reports that he was demoted.

“For all of those who are out there saying he ‘moved’ me, he asked me and I said yes. I could have said no. This is my show, I have a contract with this show. I decided that I would take him up on that and take this journey with him,” Lemon said.

He continued, “So this is not someone moving me, and by the way, this is not someone saying ‘you must move to the right, Don Lemon, you must not give so much of your perspective.’ None of that has happened. All of that is fodder for Twitter, which is not real. So stop it. I was not demoted. This is an opportunity. This is a promotion. This is an opportunity for me to create something around me and I get to work with two great ladies who you know.”

Later this year, Don Lemon will co-host the network’s revamped morning show with CNN Newsroom anchor Poppy Harlow and the network’s chief White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins.

The changes were announced as Chris Licht, CNN’s new CEO, retools the network’s programming.

Licht, who previously executive produced CBS This Morning and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, said in a statement Thursday that the new morning show will replace New Day, hosted by John Berman and Brianna Keilar.

“There is no stronger combination of talent than Don, Poppy and Kaitlan to deliver on our promise of a game-changing morning news program,” said Licht.

New Day will continue to be hosted by Berman and Keilar until the new morning show launches. Berman and Keilar will then take on new roles at the network.

CNN has not yet announced who will fill Lemon’s primetime slot.