CNN host Don Lemon continued to attack former President Donald Trump on Thursday, claiming that Trump didn’t “have the courage” to butt heads with him on his evening show.
Lemon gave his first interview to Semafor’s Max Tani following the announcement that he would be demoted from his primetime evening show to a new three-hour morning show. With the switch in line-up, Tani noted Lemon “would occasionally butt heads with Trump” and asked whether he had gotten “tired” of covering politics so much in primetime.
Despite Lemon’s infamous anti-Trump rants, he denied that he ever really “butted heads” with the former president.
“I would be lying to you if I didn’t say that was a factor. I never really butted heads with the last president. He didn’t have the courage to come on and take hard questions from CNN and me and my show,” Lemon said.
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He acknowledged it’s “been frustrating over the last couple of years having to deal with politics in the way it’s been dealt with in primetime” and that in some ways it had “gotten old” and he was tired of it.
Lemon added, “It was frustrating to say the least, not that I wasn’t committed to doing it in prime time. But after Donald Trump wasn’t president anymore, and we had a war in Ukraine — that changed our approach to what we did in primetime, which was not starting every single night with a monologue about Donald Trump and how bad he was and how terrible things were in the country.”
However, he suggested that there could be a return of these attacks in a new fashion should Trump return to office.
“So I was ready to move on and I think the audience is ready to move on as well. And even if he comes back, I think there’s a different approach that can be taken in primetime and in the mornings. The morning gives me more latitude to educate and elevate the conversation,” Lemon said.
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Lemon has frequently used his evening show to attack Trump and his supporters even after claiming that the media should abandon him as a topic. After his network’s ratings took a dive when Trump left office, Lemon insisted he was unconcerned with them in favor of attacking the former president.
“Trump was a horrible person. And he was terrible for the country. And it is better for all — for the world that he is no longer the President of the United States,” Lemon said in 2021. “So if that means that cable news ratings go down? Aww. So I’m not really that concerned about it. I would prefer that my ratings go down and Trump not be in office than my ratings be sky-high and him be there. That’s the honest truth.”
Lemon is set to join CNN hosts Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins in a new morning show that will replace “New Day” later this year. This move followed CNN canceling Brian Stelter’s “Reliable Sources” program in a move reflecting a new direction for the network.
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Although many media pundits referred to this schedule change as a demotion for Lemon, he denied that was the case and referred to the move as a new “opportunity.”