Rev. Al Sharpton is demanding CNN provide an explanation for why the network fired longtime anchor Don Lemon after the journalist implied “larger issues at play” led to his ouster.
The civil rights activist and president of the National Action Network blasted the cable network for “silencing” Lemon’s voice which he said brought light to civil rights issues.
“We are completely stunned at the termination of Don Lemon,” Sharpton said Wednesday in a joint statement with president and CEO of the National Urban League Marc Morial.
“Throughout his career, Don has been a superb journalist who was very open to the civil rights community on issues others wouldn’t touch… With the health of our democracy undergoing perhaps its greatest test, we cannot afford to silence his voice.”
Lemon was fired from CNN on Monday and claimed his termination came as a surprise — a statement the network denied.
“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,” he wrote on Twitter. “It is clear that there are some larger issues at play.”
Sharpton and Morial said they’d like to learn what the “larger issues” are.
“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,” they said in the statement.
CNN CEO Chris Licht announced Lemon and the network “parted ways” in a memo to staffers without providing an explanation for its decision.
“CNN and Don have parted ways,” Licht said. “Don will forever be part of the CNN family, and we thank him for his contributions over the past 17 years. We wish him well and will be cheering him on in his future endeavors.”
Lemon’s most recent gig was co-anchoring “CNN This Morning” alongside Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins.
The longtime anchor reportedly screamed at the latter for “interrupting” him on air and drew public backlash after saying 51-year-old presidential candidate Nikki Haley was “past her prime” in what was widely considered to be sexist remarks.
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