Rev. Al Sharpton released a statement on Wednesday that demanded an explanation from CNN regarding the decision to fire longtime host Don Lemon.
Lemon himself revealed he was fired in a lengthy statement from his Twitter account on Monday, saying that he was “stunned” by the decision and suspected “larger issues at play” regarding it.
“After 17 years at CNN I would have thought that someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly. At no time was I ever given any indication that I would not be able to continue to do the work I have loved at the network,” Lemon wrote. “It is clear that there are some larger issues at play.”
Sharpton, along with National Urban League (NUL) founder and CEO Marc Morial, likewise questioned the “larger issues at play” in their own statement days later.
“We are completely stunned at the termination of Don Lemon. Throughout his career, Don has been a superb journalist who was very open to the civil rights community on issues others wouldn’t touch. Don’s voice has been invaluable to the conversation of how we become a more just nation. With the health of our democracy undergoing perhaps its greatest test, we cannot afford to silence his voice. We would like to know what he alludes to when he said there are greater things at play, which is why we urge for a full explanation as to why he was let go in such a fashion,” the statement read.
The comment came from Sharpton’s organization National Action Network (NAN) where he currently serves as the president. The statement also noted that “Civil rights leaders note Lemon gave voice to civil rights community, told stories others wouldn’t.”
In a memo also released on Monday, CNN CEO Chris Licht confirmed that Lemon and the network parted ways, though it did not provide a direct explanation.
Licht wrote, “Don will forever be a part of the CNN family, and we thank him for his contributions over the past 17 years. We wish him luck and will be cheering him on in his future endeavors.”
However, CNN’s communications team pushed back against Lemon’s statement on Twitter, calling it “inaccurate.”
“Don Lemon’s statement about this morning’s events is inaccurate. He was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter,” the tweet read.
Lemon has been the subject of multiple controversies during his time on CNN. In February, a CNN insider told Fox News Digital that Lemon had had “no defenders” in CNN and that him being fired “would probably be welcomed by a lot of people.”
In 2022, Lemon was previously moved from his solo primetime show to an ensemble morning program with Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins. During this time, there were multiple visible and reported instances of him verbally tussling with Collins.