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Don Lemon

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Don Lemon
Don Lemon at the 2018 Pulitzer Prizes.jpg
Lemon at the 2018 Pulitzer Prizes
Born (1966-03-01) March 1, 1966 (age 56)
EducationBrooklyn College (BA)
Political partyIndependent[1]
Partner(s)Tim Malone (2017−present; engaged)

Don Lemon (born March 1, 1966) is an American television journalist. Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he anchored weekend news programs on local television stations in Alabama and Pennsylvania during his early days as a journalist. Lemon then worked as a news correspondent for NBC on its programming, such as Today and NBC Nightly News, after which he joined CNN in 2006, also as a correspondent. He later achieved prominence as the presenter of CNN Tonight beginning in 2014. Lemon is also a recipient of an Edward R. Murrow Award and three regional Emmy Awards. He is the host of Don Lemon Tonight.

Early life

Don Lemon[2] was born March 1, 1966, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the son of Katherine Marie (Bouligney) and Wilmon Lee Richardson.[3][4][5] His father was a prominent attorney, who was part of a lawsuit successfully challenging segregation of public transportation in Baton Rouge.[3] 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.[3][6] 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.[7]

Lemon attended Louisiana State University and graduated from Brooklyn College in 1996, majoring in broadcast journalism. While at Brooklyn College, he interned at WNYW.[8][9] He worked for Fox affiliates in St. Louis and Chicago for several years,[7] and was a correspondent for NBC affiliates in Philadelphia and Chicago.[7]


Early in his career, Lemon reported as a weekend news anchor for WBRC in Birmingham, Alabama and for WCAU in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Also, he was an anchor and investigative reporter for KTVI in St. Louis, Missouri.[10] 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 (5 in Chicago) and was a reporter and local news co-anchor.[10] He won three Emmys for local reporting while at WMAQ.[11]

Lemon joined CNN in September 2006.[10] He has been outspoken in his work at CNN, criticizing the state of cable news and questioning the network publicly.[12] He has also voiced strong opinions on ways that the African American community can improve their lives, which has caused some controversy.[13] Since 2014, he has also co-hosted CNN's New Year's Eve special from New Orleans with Brooke Baldwin.

In a much-reported broadcast in January 2018, Lemon introduced his broadcast with, "This is CNN Tonight, I'm Don Lemon. The president of the United States is racist."[14] His outspoken criticism of the Trump administration and accusations of racism against President Trump have made Lemon a target of Trump.[15] In October 2018, during an on-air discussion about the migrant caravan, Lemon received criticism from conservatives for stating "we have to stop demonizing people and realize that the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them. There is no travel ban on them."[16][17]

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.[18]

The following night, on May 14, 2021, at the end of that edition of CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, the host announced: "So, earlier I told you I had an announcement, and I do. It's been really, really great. This is the last night that we'll be CNN Tonight with Don Lemon. So I appreciate all the years of CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, but changes are coming, and I will fill you in".[19] The next morning, Lemon apologized for "setting fire to" the internet and tweeted that his show would be renamed Don Lemon Tonight, beginning the following Monday.[20]

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 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.[21]

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.[22]However, only two episodes managed to be released in the service's sole month of operation in April 2022, before shutting down. [23]

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.[24][25][7] 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.[26][11]

Lemon was voted as one of the 150 most influential African Americans by Ebony magazine in 2009.[27] In 2014, The Advocate listed Lemon as one of the publication's 50 Most Influential LGBTQ People in Media.[28]

In 2014, David Uberti of the Columbia Journalism Review named him in a list of worst journalism of the year for several reporting gaffes throughout the year.[29][30]

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".[31] In 2017, Out named him on its Power 50 list of "the most influential LGBTQ people in the USA."[32]

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".[33][34]

Personal life

Lemon lives in an apartment in Harlem and has another home in Sag Harbor on Long Island, New York.[35]

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.[36][7]

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."[25][37][38] He also discussed colorism in the black community and the sexual abuse he suffered as a child.[39] He dedicated the book to Tyler Clementi, a college student who took his own life after his roommate outed him online.[40] Lemon also stated that he has known about his sexuality since the age of five or six.[41]

In October 2017, he received death threats laced with racial slurs; he filed a police report detailing the incident.[42]

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.[43] 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".[44]

Lemon met real estate agent Tim Malone in 2017, after which the two began dating.[45] The couple announced in April 2019 that they were engaged.[46]

In August 2019, a New York bartender, Dustin Hice, filed a civil lawsuit against Lemon for a "demeaning, unprovoked and offensive assault" in a tavern in Sag Harbor in July 2018, seeking unspecified damages for "severe emotional stress and loss of future earnings and opportunities." In his response, Lemon denied the bartender's claims.[47]

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, "...the internet has my name wrong...", " middle name is not Carlton...", "my name is not Donald—just Don", Don Lemon Tonight, December 1, 2021
  3. ^ a b c Stated on Finding Your Roots, April 20, 2021
  4. ^ "Don Lemon: Address; Distinguished Alumnus Award". Brooklyn College. February 19, 2011. Archived from the original on February 19, 2011.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "CNN Roots with Don Lemon: An Étouffée of Stories". Ancestry Blog. October 16, 2014. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e Brodesser-Albert, Taffy (April 21, 2015). "Don Lemon Is the Anchor America Deserves". GQ. Photography by Chris Buck. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  8. ^ Concha, Joe (January 2, 2019). "CNN's Lemon mistakes local reporter for ex-girlfriend during New Year's Eve telecast". The Hill.
  9. ^ "CNN Profiles - Don Lemon - Anchor". CNN. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c "Don Lemon". CNN. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
  11. ^ 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)
  12. ^ Williams, Wyatt (December 22, 2011). "Can Don Lemon set CNN straight?". Creative Loafing (Atlanta). Retrieved December 23, 2011.
  13. ^ Brett, Jennifer (August 2, 2013). "Fact-checking CNN's Don Lemon". Atlanta Journal Constitution. Archived from the original on August 4, 2013. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Derysh, Igor (November 8, 2018). "Benjamin Matthews: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  16. ^ "CNN's Don Lemon calls white men the 'biggest terror threat' in America, and data backs him up". Global News. Retrieved April 12, 2021.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ "Don Lemon Announces Departure From 'CNN Tonight' (Video)". TheWrap. May 15, 2021. Retrieved May 15, 2021.
  20. ^ Wilkinson, Joseph. "Don Lemon 'set the internet on fire' over name change to show". New York Daily News.
  21. ^ Thornton, Cedric 'BIG CED' (December 7, 2021). "JUSSIE SMOLLETT SAYS DON LEMON TOLD HIM ABOUT CHICAGO POLICE INVESTIGATION". Black Enterprise. Retrieved December 7, 2021.
  22. ^ Tran, Sophie (February 1, 2022). "Don Lemon to Host New Talk Show on CNN+". CNN Press Room. Retrieved May 16, 2022.
  23. ^ "Shows A-Z - don lemon show, the on cnn plus". The Futon Critic. Retrieved April 27, 2022.
  24. ^ Farrell, Mike (April 16, 2019). "CNN Tonight's Don Lemon to Host Cable Center Hall of Fame". Multichannel. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  25. ^ a b Watts, Lawrence (September 15, 2011). "Interview: Don Lemon, CNN's openly gay anchorman". Pink News. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  26. ^ "CNN Profiles - Don Lemon - Anchor". CNN. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  27. ^ "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.
  28. ^ "The 50 Most Influential LGBT People in Media". The Advocate. September 16, 2014. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  29. ^ "CNN's Don Lemon Named to 'Worst Journalism of 2014' List". The Hollywood Reporter. December 26, 2014.
  30. ^ Uberti, David (December 22, 2014). "The worst journalism of 2014". Columbia Journalism Review.
  31. ^ Rook, Erin (December 4, 2016). "First ever Native Son Awards celebrate Don Lemon and other black gay men". LGBTQ Nation. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  32. ^ Blas, Lorena (July 19, 2017). "Who tops the 'Out' Power 50 list of LGBTQ influencers?". USA Today. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  33. ^ "Queerty Pride50 2019 Honorees". Queerty. June 25, 2019. Archived from the original on August 26, 2019. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  34. ^ "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.
  35. ^ Halberg, Morgan (January 19, 2018). "Don Lemon Offloads Spare Harlem Abode". Observer. New York City. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  36. ^ 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.
  37. ^ Childry, Lawayne (November 4, 2015). "Get Inspired by This Black Gay Journalist's Triumph". The Advocate. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  38. ^ Folkenflik, David (May 16, 2011). "Livelihood 'On The Line', Anchorman Reveals He's Gay". NPR. Retrieved May 19, 2011.
  39. ^ Carter, Bill (May 15, 2011). "Gay CNN Anchor Sees Risk in Book". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  40. ^ 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.
  41. ^ Watts, Lawrence (September 15, 2011). "Interview: Don Lemon, CNN's openly gay anchorman". Pink News. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  42. ^ Paiella, Gabriella (2017). "Don Lemon Files Police Report After Getting Twitter Death Threat". The Cut. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  43. ^ "CNN host Don Lemon's sister tragically died in a Louisiana fishing accident". February 2, 2018.
  44. ^ "Don Lemon Returns to CNN After His Sister's Death: Your Prayers Have 'Meant the World to Me'". February 7, 2018.
  45. ^ 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.
  46. ^ Richards, Kimberly (April 6, 2019). "Don Lemon Announces His Engagement To Tim Malone". HuffPost. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  47. ^ Henderson, Cydney (August 14, 2019). "Don Lemon sued for allegedly assaulting New York bartender". USA Today. Archived from the original on August 14, 2019. Retrieved August 14, 2019.

External links