Don Lemon
Don Lemon at the 2018 Pulitzer Prizes.jpg
Lemon in 2018
Born (1966-03-01) March 1, 1966 (age 57)
EducationBrooklyn College (BA)
Political partyIndependent[1]
Partner(s)Tim Malone (2017−present; engaged)

Don Carlton Lemon[2] (born March 1, 1966) is an American television journalist most well known for being a host on CNN. Lemon anchored weekend news programs on local television stations in Alabama and Pennsylvania during his early days as a journalist.[3] Lemon worked as a news correspondent for NBC on its programming, such as Today and NBC Nightly News. He joined CNN in 2006, also as a correspondent and later achieved prominence as the presenter of Don Lemon Tonight from 2014 to 2022. He is currently a co-host of CNN This Morning alongside Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow. Lemon is also a recipient of an Edward R. Murrow Award and three regional Emmy Awards.

Early life

Lemon[4] was born March 1, 1966, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the son of Katherine Marie (Bouligney) and Wilmon Lee Richardson.[5][6] His father was a prominent attorney, who was part of a lawsuit successfully challenging segregation of public transportation in Baton Rouge.[7] Lemon was born under the surname of his mother's then-husband, and discovered that Wilmon was his father when he was five. He is of mostly African-American ancestry, along with Creole; his maternal grandmother was the daughter of a black mother and a white father, who had French and Scots-Irish ancestry.[7][8] He attended Baker High School, a public high school in the town of Baker in East Baton Rouge Parish. Lemon was voted class president during his senior year.[9]

Lemon attended Louisiana State University where he was a Republican and voted for Ronald Reagan.[9] He later graduated from Brooklyn College with a major in broadcast journalism in 1996 at the age of 30. While at Brooklyn College, he interned at WNYW.[10][11] He worked for Fox affiliates in St. Louis and Chicago for several years,[9] and was a correspondent for NBC affiliates in Philadelphia and Chicago.[9]


Early in his career, Lemon reported as a weekend news anchor for WBRC in Birmingham, Alabama and for WCAU in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For several years he was an anchor and investigative reporter for Fox affiliate KTVI in St. Louis, Missouri, and Fox’s Chicago affiliate.[12] Lemon reported for NBC News's New York City operations, including working as a correspondent for both Today, and NBC Nightly News; and as an anchor on Weekend Today and programs on MSNBC. In 2003, he began working at NBC owned-and-operated station WMAQ-TV in Chicago, and was a reporter and local news co-anchor.[12] He won three Emmys for local reporting while at WMAQ.[13]

Lemon joined CNN in September 2006.[12] He has been outspoken in his work at CNN, criticizing the state of cable news and questioning the network publicly.[14] He has also voiced strong opinions on ways that the African American community can improve their lives, which has caused some controversy.[15]

In 2014, CNN began to pilot prime time shows hosted by Lemon, including The Eleventh Hour and The Don Lemon Show. Following the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Lemon began to host a special, nightly program featuring discussion and analysis of the event by aviation experts.[16] After a realignment of CNN's schedule following the cancellation of Piers Morgan Live, this hour was replaced by the news program CNN Tonight; Lemon would later become the permanent host of the hour as CNN Tonight with Don Lemon.[17] Lemon has also participated in CNN's New Year's Eve Live as a correspondent from a city in the Central Time Zone, most often alongside fellow CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin.[18][19][20]

Lemon's outspoken criticism of the administration of Donald Trump and accusations of racism made him a target of the president.[21] In January 2018, after Trump controversially referred to countries such as El Salvador, Haiti, and Honduras as "shitholes" during a meeting on immigration, Lemon opened the program with a proclamation that "The president of the United States is racist. A lot of us already knew that."[22]

In October 2018, during a discussion with Chris Cuomo on Cuomo Prime Time amid the Jeffersontown shooting, Lemon argued that Americans shouldn't "demonize any one group or any one ethnicity", and that domestic terrorism by white supremacist Americans, "most of them radicalized to the right", were a bigger threat to the safety of the country than foreigners. He went on to ask, "there is no travel ban on [white people], they have the Muslim ban, there is no white guy ban, so what do we do about that?" Lemon's remarks were criticized by conservative figures, who felt that it was "race baiting" and contradicted his suggestion that Americans should not "demonize any one group or any one ethnicity." In response to the criticism, Lemon cited data from a report by the Government Accountability Office stating that there had been 255 fatalities between September 12, 2001 and December 31, 2016, involving domestic extremists, and that killings by far-right extremists outranked those by Islamic extremists in 10 of the 15 years tracked. In the same period, no deaths were credited to attacks by far-left extremists.[23][24][25]

In May 2021, it was announced that Lemon, along with CNN fellow journalist Chris Cuomo, would launch a podcast named The Handoff. The audio show will center around "politics and personal" and will be teleprompter-free.[26] On May 17, CNN Tonight with Don Lemon was retitled to simply Don Lemon Tonight; Lemon apologized for how he teased the rebranding on his show, stating that he "didn't mean to set the internet on fire"—in reference to viewers who thought that Lemon would be departing CNN.[27][28]

During testimony of Jussie Smollett on December 6, 2021, he said that he was in contact with Lemon during the early part of a police investigation into an alleged hate crime attack. While testifying under oath, Smollett claimed Lemon sent a text that the Chicago Police Department had doubts about his account of what transpired. Lemon has received criticism for not mentioning his role in the case when he reported on the trial late in the evening on December 6.[29]

In February 2022, it was announced that he would be hosting a talk show for CNN's then-forthcoming streaming service CNN+ called The Don Lemon Show.[30] However, only two episodes managed to be released in the service's sole month of operation in April 2022, before shutting down.[31]

On September 15, 2022, it was announced that Lemon will co-anchor a new CNN morning show with Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow later in the year.[32] On October 12, 2022, it was announced that the morning show will be named CNN This Morning.[33]

On February 19, 2023, after Nikki Haley's presidential campaign announcement, Lemon stated that Haley "isn't in her prime" and that a woman is "considered to be in her prime in her 20s and 30s and maybe 40s." The comments went viral and received widespread negative reactions online, which alleged his comments were sexist.[34] Lemon apologized for the comments[35] and did not appear on CNN This Morning on February 20;[36] he returned on February 22.[37]

Honors and awards

Lemon at Redlight Traffic's inaugural Dignity Gala in October 2013

In 2002, Lemon won an Edward R. Murrow Award for his coverage of the capture of the D.C. area sniper, and other awards for reports on Hurricane Katrina.[38][39][9] In 2006, he earned three Chicago / Midwest Emmy Awards—one for a business feature about Craigslist real estate listings, "Life on Craigslist,"[a] and two for reporting on the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa, "Journey to Africa"[b]—while reporting for WMAQ-TV in Chicago.[40][13]

Lemon was voted as one of the 150 most influential African Americans by Ebony magazine in 2009.[41] In 2014, The Advocate listed Lemon as one of the publication's 50 Most Influential LGBTQ People in Media.[42]

In December 2016, Lemon was honored with a Native Son Award, named after James Baldwin's Notes of a Native Son (1955), recognizing and to "encourage the increased visibility and impact of black gay men in society".[43] In 2017, Out named him on its Power 50 list of "the most influential LGBTQ people in the USA."[44]

In June 2019, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, New York, an event widely considered a watershed moment in the modern LGBTQ rights movement, Queerty named him one of the Pride50 "trailblazing individuals who actively ensure society remains moving towards equality, acceptance and dignity for all queer people".[45][46]

Personal life

Lemon lives in an apartment in Harlem and has another home in Sag Harbor on Long Island, New York.[47]

During an on-air interview with members of Bishop Eddie Long's congregation in September 2010, Lemon discussed being sexually molested when he was five or six by a neighbor teenage boy, and that it was not until he was thirty that he told his mother about it.[48][9]

In his 2011 memoir, Transparent, Lemon publicly came out as gay—having been out in his personal life and with close colleagues—becoming "one of the few openly gay black men in broadcasting."[39][49][50] He also discussed colorism in the black community and the sexual abuse he suffered as a child.[51] He dedicated the book to Tyler Clementi, a college student who killed himself after his roommate outed him online.[52] Lemon also stated that he has known about his sexuality since the age of five or six.[53]

In October 2017, he received death threats laced with racial slurs; he filed a police report detailing the incident.[54]

On January 31, 2018, Lemon's sister, L'Tanya "Leisa" Lemon Grimes, died at the age of 58; police concluded that her death was an accidental drowning in a pond while fishing.[55] After being absent for approximately a week, he opened his show on February 6 by thanking everyone who wished him "prayers and words of encouragement".[56]

Lemon met real estate agent Tim Malone in 2017, after which the two began dating.[57] The couple announced in April 2019 that they were engaged to be married.[58]

Published works

  • Lemon, Don (2011). Transparent. Farrah Gray Publishing, Inc. ISBN 978-0-9827027-8-9.
  • Lemon, Don (2021). This Is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 9780316257572.

See also


  1. ^ For Outstanding Achievement within a Regularly Scheduled News Program – Specialty Report: Business/Consumer.
  2. ^ For Outstanding Achievement within a Regularly Scheduled News Program – Soft News Feature Series and Outstanding Achievement for Alternate Media/New Media Interactivity.


  1. ^ Concha, Joe (November 3, 2018). "CNN's Don Lemon reveals political affiliation". The Hill. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
  2. ^ "Don Lemon (1966- ) •". March 28, 2013. Retrieved March 20, 2023.
  3. ^ African American History. Don Lemon
  4. ^ Don Lemon, "...the internet has my name wrong...", " middle name is not Carlton...", "my name is not Donald—just Don", Don Lemon Tonight, December 1, 2021
  5. ^ "Don Lemon: Address; Distinguished Alumnus Award". Brooklyn College. February 19, 2011. Archived from the original on February 19, 2011.
  6. ^ Williams, Kam (August 21, 2013). "Don Lemon talks journalism, coming out and his 'March on Washington' special". The Bay State Banner. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Stated on Finding Your Roots, April 20, 2021
  8. ^ "CNN Roots with Don Lemon: An Étouffée of Stories". Ancestry Blog. October 16, 2014. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Brodesser-Albert, Taffy (April 21, 2015). "Don Lemon Is the Anchor America Deserves". GQ. Photography by Chris Buck. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  10. ^ Concha, Joe (January 2, 2019). "CNN's Lemon mistakes local reporter for ex-girlfriend during New Year's Eve telecast". The Hill.
  11. ^ "CNN Profiles - Don Lemon - Anchor". CNN. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  12. ^ a b c "Don Lemon". CNN. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
  13. ^ a b Virchow, Krause & Company, LLP (November 19, 2006). "2005-2006 Emmy Recipients" (PDF). Chicago/Midwest Chapter National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved December 1, 2019.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ Williams, Wyatt (December 22, 2011). "Can Don Lemon set CNN straight?". Creative Loafing (Atlanta). Retrieved November 8, 2022.
  15. ^ Brett, Jennifer (August 2, 2013). "Fact-checking CNN's Don Lemon". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on August 4, 2013. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  16. ^ Brodesser-Akner, Taffy (April 20, 2015). "Anchorman: The Legend of Don Lemon". GQ. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  17. ^ "CNN Tonight with Don Lemon Is Now Don Lemon Tonight". TVNewser. Retrieved May 16, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ Bennett, Anita (January 1, 2020). "Don Lemon Rings In New Year With Song And Dance Live On CNN". Deadline. Retrieved October 10, 2022.
  19. ^ Duffy, Nick (January 2, 2020). "Gay CNN anchor Don Lemon rings in the New Year with his annual tradition of getting drunk on live TV". PinkNews. Retrieved October 10, 2022.
  20. ^ Gilmer, Marcus (January 1, 2017). "Don Lemon got real (drunk) on New Year's Eve". Mashable. Retrieved October 10, 2022.
  21. ^ Derysh, Igor (November 8, 2018). "Benjamin Matthews: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  22. ^ Schmidt, Samantha (January 12, 2018). "This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon. The president of the United States is racist". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  23. ^ Concha, Joe (October 31, 2018). "Don Lemon: 'White men' are biggest terror threat to US, and there is no travel ban on them". The Hill. Retrieved October 9, 2022.
  24. ^ "CNN's Don Lemon calls white men the 'biggest terror threat' in America, and data backs him up". Global News. Retrieved April 12, 2021.
  25. ^ Bever, Lindsay (November 1, 2019). "CNN's Don Lemon doubles down after saying white men are 'the biggest terror threat in this country'". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  26. ^ Brisco, Elise (May 13, 2021). "Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon's banter is moving from screen to audio with new podcast 'The Handoff'". USA Today. Retrieved May 13, 2021.
  27. ^ "Don Lemon Announces Departure From 'CNN Tonight' (Video)". TheWrap. May 15, 2021. Retrieved May 15, 2021.
  28. ^ "Don Lemon 'set the internet on fire' over name change to show". New York Daily News. Retrieved October 9, 2022.
  29. ^ Thornton, Cedric 'BIG CED' (December 7, 2021). "JUSSIE SMOLLETT SAYS DON LEMON TOLD HIM ABOUT CHICAGO POLICE INVESTIGATION". Black Enterprise. Retrieved December 7, 2021.
  30. ^ Tran, Sophie (February 1, 2022). "Don Lemon to Host New Talk Show on CNN+". CNN Press Room. Retrieved May 16, 2022.
  31. ^ "Shows A-Z - don lemon show, the on cnn plus". The Futon Critic. Retrieved April 27, 2022.
  32. ^ Darcy, Oliver (September 15, 2022). "CNN announces it will debut new morning show with Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow, and Kaitlan Collins". CNN. Retrieved September 15, 2022.
  33. ^ DAVID BAUDER, Associated Press (October 12, 2022). "CNN reveals name, start date for new morning show". The Hill. Retrieved October 20, 2022.
  34. ^ "CNN's Don Lemon apologizes for sexist remarks about Nikki Haley". NPR. February 17, 2023. Retrieved February 20, 2023.
  35. ^ McCarthy, Mia (February 17, 2023). "Haley: CNN anchors age comment 'rolls off my shoulders'". Politico. Retrieved February 18, 2023.
  36. ^ "Embattled Don Lemon absent Monday from 'CNN This Morning'". ABC News. Associated Press. February 20, 2023. Retrieved February 20, 2023.
  37. ^ Barr, Jeremy (February 22, 2023). "Don Lemon returns to CNN but does not mention controversy on air". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 27, 2023.
  38. ^ Farrell, Mike (April 16, 2019). "CNN Tonight's Don Lemon to Host Cable Center Hall of Fame". Multichannel. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  39. ^ a b Watts, Lawrence (September 15, 2011). "Interview: Don Lemon, CNN's openly gay anchorman". Pink News. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  40. ^ "CNN Profiles - Don Lemon - Anchor". CNN. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  41. ^ "CNN NEWSROOM transcript: Rep. Earl Pomeroy Discusses Saberi Conviction in Iran; Justice Department Releases New Details on Bush Administration Terror Policy; 'Ebony' Magazine's Power 150; Maryland Tragedy". CNN. April 18, 2009.
  42. ^ "The 50 Most Influential LGBT People in Media". The Advocate. September 16, 2014. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  43. ^ Rook, Erin (December 4, 2016). "First ever Native Son Awards celebrate Don Lemon and other black gay men". LGBTQ Nation. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  44. ^ Blas, Lorena (July 19, 2017). "Who tops the 'Out' Power 50 list of LGBTQ influencers?". USA Today. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  45. ^ "Queerty Pride50 2019 Honorees". Queerty. June 25, 2019. Archived from the original on August 26, 2019. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  46. ^ "Don Lemon stares down death threats to call out racism & homophobia". Queerty. June 25, 2019. Archived from the original on July 11, 2019. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  47. ^ Halberg, Morgan (January 19, 2018). "Don Lemon Offloads Spare Harlem Abode". Observer. New York City. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  48. ^ Lemon, Don (September 25, 2010). "CNN Reporter Don Lemon Says That He Was Attacked By A Pedophile!". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 19, 2021. Retrieved May 13, 2014.
  49. ^ Childry, Lawayne (November 4, 2015). "Get Inspired by This Black Gay Journalist's Triumph". The Advocate. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  50. ^ Folkenflik, David (May 16, 2011). "Livelihood 'On The Line', Anchorman Reveals He's Gay". NPR. Retrieved May 19, 2011.
  51. ^ Carter, Bill (May 15, 2011). "Gay CNN Anchor Sees Risk in Book". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  52. ^ Duffy, Nick (January 1, 2018). "CNN host Don Lemon got drunk, kissed his boyfriend on New Year's Eve show". Pink News. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  53. ^ Watts, Lawrence (September 15, 2011). "Interview: Don Lemon, CNN's openly gay anchorman". Pink News. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  54. ^ Paiella, Gabriella (2017). "Don Lemon Files Police Report After Getting Twitter Death Threat". The Cut. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  55. ^ "CNN host Don Lemon's sister tragically died in a Louisiana fishing accident". Newsweek. February 2, 2018.
  56. ^ "Don Lemon Returns to CNN After His Sister's Death: Your Prayers Have 'Meant the World to Me'". February 7, 2018.
  57. ^ Cole, Brendan (April 8, 2019). "Who is Tim Malone? CNN's Don Lemon says he will marry long-time partner". Newsweek. Retrieved December 2, 2019.
  58. ^ Richards, Kimberly (April 6, 2019). "Don Lemon Announces His Engagement To Tim Malone". HuffPost. Retrieved April 7, 2019.

External links