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Don Lemon rejects ‘narrative’ new CNN boss wants to shift network to political center with Charlamagne Tha God

CNN anchor Don Lemon dismissed the apparent mission of his new boss about shifting the staunchly liberal network towards the political center. 

Appearing on Friday’s installment of Comedy Central’s “Hell Of A Week,” host Charlamagne Tha God asked Lemon about how new CNN CEO Chris Licht wants to end the “opinion-based partisan news” in favor of more balanced coverage.  

“Will you still be able to call it like it is?” Charlamagne asked.

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“So, let me just say I don’t think that’s exactly what Chris is saying,” Lemon responded. “I think that’s a narrative that’s been placed in the media. I think what Chris wants to do is to be able to have Republicans and Democrats and whatever your political stance is on CNN so that you can be accountable and that you can answer for it.” 

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While Lemon assured Charlamagne he’ll be “able to do” what he has been doing on his CNN show, the anchor suggested he’d leave the network if he cannot continue telling “the truth.”

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“If I’m not allowed to do that, then I will go on and do it somewhere else,” Lemon said. 

“You’d be willing to walk if they stifled you like that?” Charlamagne asked. 

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“I don’t mean just CNN,” Lemon walked back the threat. “If people don’t allow journalists to be journalists because again – we hold the powerful accountable… that is what our jobs are, that’s what we’re supposed to do, so why would it be any different for us to do it for the people who are in charge of us, to question what they’re doing, to hold them accountable, to make sure that they are doing what is right, even if they are the people who hire us.”

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Comedy Central host Charlamagne Tha God. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for Comedy Central)

Things got a bit awkward when Charlamagne mentioned how he missed the primetime “handoff” between Lemon and now ex-colleague Chris Cuomo, who was fired in December following surfaced sexual misconduct allegations and his coordination with his brother, ousted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, as the high-profile Democrat faced his own scandals. 

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“You used to say, ‘I love you, brother.’ And he’d used to say, ‘I love you, brother.’ It was something about seeing a Black man and a White man on television doing that… do you still love him?” Charlamagne asked.

“Of course, of course. I love everybody,” Lemon responded.

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Charlamagne then mentioned how Cuomo recently lamented how he wished his former CNN colleagues like Lemon, who commented about Cuomo’s firing, had called him beforehand, something Lemon said he hadn’t heard before.

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“I should have called him for what – I don’t know the context. I don’t know what he said,” Lemon said.

“I guess after everything that happened to him,” Charlamagne clarified.

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“I had spoken to Chris for a while. I mean, I don’t know what he said, I haven’t heard what he said but I don’t know, that’s not true,” Lemon said. 

Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo were known to be extremely close and regularly expressed admiration for each other during their nightly, on-air handoff between their two CNN programs.

Cuomo recently revealed that he will be joining NewsNation as a primetime host in the fall.

Licht, who became CNN’s new CEO in May following the ousting of his predecessor, Jeff Zucker, has repeatedly signaled his aim is to restore the network’s journalistic credibility by veering its programming away from the hyperpartisan stance it took during the Trump era. 

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Critics have wondered if the shift means if the days of several CNN’s biggest liberal stars, including Lemon, are numbered.

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