Don Lemon‘s past is coming back to haunt him. After calling out Nikki Haley for her age while on TV, many insiders have come forward and shared their own experiences with the CNN star.
According to Variety, Lemon’s misogynistic behavior has been a cause of concern for a while, as he previously called one of his producers fat to her face and mocked Nancy Grace on-air.
Grace declined to comment, but a source who is close with her said “she thinks he’s an a**” and that he was always “rude, dismissive and really unfamiliar with the [news] content being discussed.”
“That was the beginning of when you knew that Don was kind of volatile and didn’t say good things about women,” an insider said of the Grace incident.
Lemon also sent threatening texts to his former co-anchor Kyra Phillips.
When Phillips was on assignment in Iraq, Lemon apparently tore up pictures and notes on top and inside of her desk they shared, a source claimed. When she got back stateside, she received a cryptic message from an unknown number which read, “Now you’ve crossed the line, and you’re going to pay for it.”
The texts were later traced back to Lemon, the source added. Lemon was pulled from the show and moved to the weekends.
“Don says the alleged incident never occurred and that he was never notified of any investigation. CNN cannot corroborate the alleged events from 15 years ago,” a CNN spokesperson said, while Phillips declined to comment.
Lemon went on to call out Soledad O’Brien, going on to suggest to around 30 staffers that she isn’t Black, despite hosting CNN’s docuseries Black in America.
“Don always wanted to be front and center on anything high profile, especially anything involving race,” a colleague spilled.
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“Don has long had a habit of saying idiotic and inaccurate things, so it sounds pretty on brand for him,” O’Brien, who was not present in the meeting, told the news outlet.
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The TV personality also annoyed his colleagues with his “diva-like behavior,” as he would skip editorial calls, show up late to the newsroom or exhibit disengaged behavior.
In 2009, CNN sent one journalist to cover the Michael Jackson memorial, and Lemon ended up heading there, while O’Brien and Anderson Cooper were outside. One insider recalled Lemon taking to social media to fume that Cooper got more airtime than he did.
“That led to a come-to-Jesus moment,” a senior executive spilled. “Don was told, ‘Look, you’ve got to address your behavior. Your performance as a reporter is great. It’s your behavior that’s gotta improve. It’s what’s going to derail you if you’re not careful.’”
After Jeff Zucker joined CNN, Lemon lost touch with some friends and overall had a different attitude.
“I saw a new Don emerging, and I didn’t like the new Don,” a female colleague said. “He likes celebrity. He likes fame, likes power. He was no longer the same person.”
As OK! previously reported, Lemon, who hosts a morning show with Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins, has infuriated both of them after his remarks about Haley went viral.