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Don Lemon: Elon Musk Canceled Me for Asking Him Questions

Gilbert Flores/Getty Images
Gilbert Flores/Getty Images

Don Lemon’s “X”-rated comeback in Musk Land has come to an end before it even began.

The former CNN star announced on Wednesday that Elon Musk had abruptly pulled the plug on hosting Lemon’s online show on X, the social-media platform formerly known as Twitter—all because the billionaire didn’t like the way Lemon grilled him in a sitdown interview.

“Elon Musk has canceled the partnership I had with X, which they announced as part of their public commitment to amplifying more diverse voices on their platform,” Lemon wrote in a post blasted across all his social-media channels. “He informed me of his decision hours after an interview I conducted with him on Friday.”

Don Lemon Begins ‘X’-Rated Comeback in Musk Land

The jilted would-be X video star continued: “Elon publicly encouraged me to join X with a new show, saying I would have his ‘full support,’ and that his ‘digital town square is for all.’ He and his team pursued the deal in numerous conversations and made significant commitments about the support X would provide for the show. I made the decision to work with them in a unique partnership that I believed would ultimately assure that my work would be available to the most people, in the largest possible venue. I took Elon and his management team’s word that they, for the first time, were interested in working directly with new and diverse voices.”

Lemon said the cancellation was the result of his interview with the edgelord billionaire. “There were no restrictions on the interview that he willingly agreed to, and my questions were respectful and wide ranging, covering everything from SpaceX to the presidential election. We had a good conversation. Clearly he felt differently. His commitment to a global town square where all questions can be asked and all ideas can be shared seems not to include questions of him from people like me.”

Tech journalist Kara Swisher confirmed that the fallout occurred after the interview. “Elon Musk sent a terse text to [Lemon’s] reps: “Contract terminated” after an interview Lemon did with Musk last Friday that was not to the adult toddler’s liking, including questions about his ketamine use,” she tweeted.

Lemon’s post concluded: “While Elon goes back on his word, I will be doubling down on my commitment to free speech and I cannot wait to get started.” Reps for Lemon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“His approach was basically just ‘CNN, but on social media’, which doesn’t work, as evidenced by the fact that CNN is dying,” Musk wrote on X when asked why the partnership was canceled. “And, instead of it being the real Don Lemon, it was really just Jeff Zucker talking through Don, so lacked authenticity. All this said, Lemon/Zucker are of course welcome to build their viewership on this platform along with everyone else.”

“The Don Lemon Show is welcome to publish its content on X, without censorship, as we believe in providing a platform for creators to scale their work and connect with new communities,” X’s business account wrote in a post on Wednesday. “However, like any enterprise, we reserve the right to make decisions about our business partnerships, and after careful consideration, X decided not to enter into a commercial partnership with the show.”

Musk had been vocal about getting Lemon to relaunch his career on X, urging him to do so just weeks after he was fired last year. “Have you considered doing your show on this platform? Maybe worth a try. Audience is much bigger,” Musk wrote in an X reply to Lemon’s post announcing his abrupt CNN exit.

The move was part of Musk’s push to lure talent to his platform that has suffered from dismal advertising revenue since he took it over, leading to various plans for products to help boost X’s coffers. The monthslong campaign eventually netted content deals with Lemon, former U.S. congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, and ex-ESPN star Jim Rome, all of which came after ex-Fox News star Tucker Carlson launched his vlog on the platform.

“We’re delighted to announce a new content partnership with @DonLemon for his new project, The Don Lemon Show,” the X Business account wrote in January. “The award winning TV journalist will share his unique and honest voice in 30 minute episodes, three times a week, covering politics, culture, sports and entertainment. The show will run exclusively first on X. Welcome Don!”

Lemon, in his own statement at the time, called X “the biggest space for free speech in the world.” He added: “I know now more than ever that we need a place for honest debate and discussion without the hall monitors.”

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