Don Lemon Shuts Down CNN Demotion Claims Amid Rampant Speculation

On September 6, it was announced that John Harwood, Brian Stelter, and Jeffrey Toobin left CNN after chief executive Chris Licht stated that the reporters are "truth tellers, focused on informing, not alarming [their] viewers," per Newsweek. The rumored shift to a more neutral stance in political reporting, rather than a left-leaning stance, made people wonder if other news anchors were going to walk away or get fired from the network.

"There will be moves you may not agree with or understand," Licht reportedly said in a meeting with his employees in August, following the cancellation of the show "Reliable Sources," per Deadline. "I want to acknowledge to everyone that this is a time of change. I know that it is unsettling."

One of these moves involves a retooled morning show that features anchors Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow, and Kaitlan Collins, per Fox News. It was also announced that Lemon will no longer be continuing his primetime show, "Don Lemon Tonight," and the current morning show, "New Day," will be replaced by the new show. The anchors of "New Day" are expected to stay with the network, but have different jobs. After this announcement, many people believed Lemon was being demoted from primetime to the morning shift, but the news anchor has set the record straight.

Don Lemon chose to move to mornings

Each year, CNN's ratings have been decreasing enough for the network's executive team to rethink how they deliver the news. "CNN is in a bad place," a media exec told the New York Post. The only CNN show that was in the top 25 cable news shows list was "Anderson Cooper 360" — and it was in 25th place. In August, "Don Lemon Tonight" only averaged 660,000 viewers, which is why people believed chief executive Chris Licht moved the primetime news anchor to the morning slot.

"I was presented with an opportunity that I can't pass up at this network," Lemon said on his CNN show. "And I am honored that [Licht] asked me to do it." He mentioned that he wasn't demoted — clearing up the rumors that he was — and he had the decision to accept or deny the offer he was given. He also said that he looks at this new show as a "promotion," expressing his excitement for the new project.

Licht seems to be on the same page, hoping that this new morning show will boost the ratings for the network. "There is no stronger combination of talent than Don, Poppy [Harlow], and Kaitlan [Collins] to deliver on our promise of a game-changing morning news program," the chief executive said, per CNN Business. "They are each uniquely intelligent, reliable and compelling; together they have a rare and palpable chemistry."