Don Lemon stresses that his move to morning show is not a demotion: 'This is a promotion'

Don Lemon Tonight kicked off Thursday with Lemon addressing his upcoming move to co-host a new morning show at CNN alongside Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow. The trio will replace New Day hosts John Berman and Brianna Keilar. Lemon said that new CNN head Chris Licht, who spent several years producing CBS This Morning, asked him to do it, and he decided to take the opportunity.

“I was presented with an opportunity that I can’t pass up at this network,” Lemon said. “And we have a new boss who is a morning-show impresario, and he wants a morning show that will kick off the editorial direction of the network every single day, and I am honored that he would ask me to do it.”

Lemon said that despite the noise coming from some, this was his choice.

“For all of those who are out there saying, ‘Oh, he moved me, and without my [input]’ — he asked me and I said yes. I could have said no,” Lemon said. “This is my show. I have a contract for this show. I decided that I would take him up on that and take this journey with him.”

Much of that noise, of course, has come from Twitter. Those on the far right are mocking the move as a demotion, while others believe this is part of CNN’s move toward the right, as the network has been accused of doing since Licht took over. But Lemon said none of that is true.

“This is not someone moving me. And by the way, this is not someone saying, ‘You must move to the right, Don Lemon. And you must not be so — give so much of your perspective.’ None of that has happened,” Lemon said. “All of that is fodder for Twitter, which is not real. So stop it. I was not demoted, none of that. This is an opportunity. This is a promotion.”

Though Lemon appeared happy with the move he’ll be making later this year, he admitted that one aspect of it could be difficult.

“The only thing is,” Lemon said, “the boss laughed and said, ‘I’m gonna have to put some extra money in the budget to have someone come over to your house and wake you up every morning.’ Because, since I’ve been in this business, since the 1990s, seriously, I’ve only been on the night shift.”

Don Lemon Tonight airs weeknights at 10 p.m. on CNN.

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