CNN anchor Don Lemon revealed Thursday that he felt the political focus of his nixed primetime show had gotten stale prior to his move to the struggling cable network’s revamped morning show.

Lemon, who is set to serve as co-host of the new “CNN This Morning” beginning Nov. 1, said he grew “tired” of the politically charged nature of primetime news.

“I would be lying to you if I didn’t say that was a factor,” Lemon told Semafor in an interview published Wednesday.

The left-leaning anchor was known for frequently targeting former President Donald Trump in nightly monologues.

“Look, has it been frustrating over the last couple of years having to deal with politics in the way it’s been dealt with in primetime? Yes. Was I tired of it? In some ways, yeah it’s gotten old,” Lemon told the outlet. “But I also think we were transitioning to a different time.”

Lemon noted changes in the news cycle as the war in Ukraine supplanted Trump mania as CNN’s main topic of conversation in primetime, adding he “was ready to move on and I think the audience is ready to move on as well.”

Don Lemon
Don Lemon said he grew tired of the political focus of his primetime show.
YouTube/Hell Of A Week

The 56-year-old anchor couldn’t resist taking another shot at Trump, telling Semafor the former president “didn’t have the courage” to submit to an interview on his primetime show, “Don Lemon Tonight.”

Lemon is moving from primetime to mornings as CNN President Chris Licht leads an overhaul at the network. Licht and top brass at WarnerBros. Discovery are trying to shift the network toward centrist news coverage rather than the opinion-based programming that has seen its ratings crater.

Don Lemon
“Don Lemon Tonight” recently aired its last show.

Lemon denied the network’s nudging under new leadership has been “uncomfortable” and expressed support for Licht’s vision.

“I really like Chris. When I read stories about what’s happening at CNN and about Chris and what he’s doing, I think it’s unfair,” Lemon said. “I think people should give him a chance. Everyone has a new vision when they come in as a new boss. Let’s see what his vision is and how it plays out.”

Don Lemon
CNN is in the midst of massive shakeup.

The nixed “Don Lemon Tonight” struggled with low ratings prior to CNN’s shakeup. Despite losing a coveted primetime gig, Lemon has insisted his shift to mornings is a “promotion.”

Lemon is set to host “CNN This Morning” alongside fellow anchors Kaitlin Collins and Poppy Harlow. The show will air weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.

He also provided a glimpse into how he plans to approach his new gig, telling Semafor that he will “be wearing what I wear in my normal everyday life” to reflect the more casual environment.

“I’m just going to be myself. It seems to have worked for the past however many decades in the business,” Lemon said. “I’m really not concerned about the ratings. I’m concerned about making it the best morning show possible and appealing to multiple demographics and people who are interested in other things than raw, tribal politics.”


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Tyler Cowan