Don Lemon, former CNN anchor, says Elon Musk canceled his new show on X

Don Lemon, the former CNN anchor, announced Wednesday that Elon Musk canceled his new talk show on the social media platform X — before the first episode even premiered.

In a statement posted on X, Lemon claimed that Musk was upset about an interview he did with the broadcaster on Friday, almost exactly two months after their deal was announced. In a separate video post, Lemon described the interview as “testy.”

“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,” Lemon said in the statement. “We had a good conversation. Clearly he felt differently.”

In an appearance Wednesday night on CNN, Lemon said, by the end of his 90-minute interview with Musk, “I could tell that he was upset and he was uncomfortable.”

In a clip that aired on CNN, Musk appears to bristle after Lemon asks him about hate speech on X and whether he feels any responsibility to moderate content.

“I don’t have to answer questions from reporters,” Musk replied, adding that he wouldn’t have agreed to be interviewed by Lemon if the broadcaster didn’t have a deal with X. “I’m criticized constantly. I could care less,” Musk said.

Lemon said the interview with Musk would still be available to watch on YouTube and X on Monday. “While Elon goes back on his word, I will be doubling down on my commitment to free speech,” he said.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Lemon said he would still seek payment from X. “Don has a deal with X and expects to be paid for it,” she said. “If we have to go to court we will.”

X’s verified corporate account confirmed the company had “decided not to enter into a commercial partnership with the show.” When an X user asked for specific reasons, Musk replied from his personal handle and accused Lemon of being a mouthpiece for former CNN chief Jeff Zucker, who stepped down in early 2022.

“Instead of it being the real Don Lemon, it was really just Jeff Zucker talking through Don, so lacked authenticity,” Musk said in part.

Zucker’s spokesperson declined to comment.

Lemon, who was fired from CNN last April, made a content pact with X in January as part of what the company billed as a push to expand video offerings. The website also teamed up with former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and sports personality Jim Rome.

“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.’ … 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 in his statement.

Musk, who took control of what was formerly known as Twitter in late 2022, vowed to make the platform an arena for “free speech.” He has drawn intense scrutiny for propagating misinformation and giving a platform to conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones.

The tech mogul’s first media partnership was with the former Fox News host and right-wing commentator Tucker Carlson, who has since launched his own independent media enterprise.

Lemon announced he had been terminated from CNN on the same day that Fox News said it was parting ways with Carlson. The news of Lemon’s exit came after Variety published an article about allegations that he had mistreated female colleagues over his career.

He has denied those allegations.

Lemon also faced backlash for making on-air comments about then-Republican presidential contender Nikki Haley that were widely viewed as sexist and ageist.

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