Don Lemon is signaling that a lawsuit could happen between him and CNN, the news network that fired him after 17 years as an anchor, if he is not compensated for what he is owed on his contract.
Lemon reportedly has a $25 million payout after signing a contract that ran through 2026. Those familiar with his contract said he was promised $7 million a year for the next three years starting last September, multiple outlets have reported.
His CNN Tenure
Lemon, whose net worth is estimated to be $12 million, has been with CNN since 2006 and had hosted CNN’s “Don Lemon Tonight,” which aired from 2014 to 2022.
After CNN’s new parent company, Warner Discovery, was formed, he was relegated as co-host “CNN This Morning” with Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow.
After several on-air outbursts and allegations that he created a toxic work environment for women, Lemon was reportedly on the chopping block.
There is no official reason for Lemon’s termination, with CNN CEO Chris Licht of Warner Discovery releasing a memo to staff on April 24 saying, “Don will forever be a part of the CNN family, and we thank him for his contributions over the past 17 years.”
“We wish him well and will be cheering him on in his future endeavors,” it concluded.
But Lemon claims he was fired without notice and the news came from his agent. CNN has denied those claims.
Lemon’s Fighting Back
Lemon has retained the same high-powered entertainment lawyer and litigator as his former CNN colleague Chris Cuomo, who currently hosts a show on the relatively new NewsNation, and as his former primetime rival at Fox News, Tucker Carlson, who was fired from his network the same day.
Lemon has hired lawyer Bryan Freedman to “conclude this deal, and also to “investigate if Don could be eligible to further damages surrounding the conditions of his exit,” according to Page Six.
Lemon’s Legal Might
Freedman is known for high-profile cases.
In 2019, actor Gabrielle Union accused NBC of racial discrimination after her contract was not renewed as a judge on “America’s Got Talent,” and Freedman negotiated an undisclosed deal between the two parties.
Freedman also represented the Michael Jackson estate in 2019 when it sued HBO network for airing “Leaving Neverland,” a documentary that accused Jackson of having abused children.
With the case going to arbitration in 2020 the following year, the $100 million lawsuit litigated by Freedman argued that HBO broke a non-disparagement agreement that was signed in 1992 when the network used one of Jackson’s filmed concerts to discredit him, Deadline reported.