Atrocious Ratings Aren't the Only Thing Don Lemon Is Struggling with on 'CNN This Morning': Report


You would think that with Don Lemon’s ratings’ struggles at CNN, he’d be happy to have a few more people watching him in the morning — especially if they were engaging with the show.

However, according to a new report, there are at least two people viewing Lemon up close and personal that he’s not particularly happy with: his co-hosts, Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow.

On Wednesday, the celebrity gossip site Radar Online said Lemon’s ego on “CNN This Morning” is “rumored to be causing a stir on-set,” with at least one source saying he thought of the two women as “his backup dancers.”

While neither Collins nor Harlow is as well-known as Lemon, neither is exactly a strange face.

Collins had taken over for Jim Acosta as the network’s chief White House correspondent after Joe Biden took office, and Harlow had been a co-anchor on CNN during the 9 a.m.-11 a.m. shift before she was moved to the morning show.

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Despite the fact that this was part of a much-anticipated shakeup and a move away from leftist punditry promised by new CNN head Chris Licht, everyone — especially Lemon, who lost his evening show in the transition — was trying to put a happy face on the situation.

“I am so appreciative of the ‘Don Lemon Tonight’ team, my wonderful, loyal viewers and everyone who has believed in me,” Lemon said in a news release after the move was announced, according to CNN.

“I was honestly floored when Chris Licht asked me to do this and I’m honored by his belief in me,” he said. “It’s going to be a thrill to take on this challenge with Poppy and Kaitlan.”

Lemon went on to swear to his primetime viewers that this wasn’t a demotion for him:

Harlow, meanwhile, said in the news release that Lemon was one of her “closest friends for more than a decade.”

Boy, has that positive vibe changed — at least according to Radar Online.

In addition to “night owl” Lemon having issues adjusting to getting up in the wee hours of the morning for a 6 a.m. show, he’s also adjusting to not being the center of attention, a source told the outlet.

“Don went into this thinking of himself as Beyoncé and his co-hosts as his backup dancers,” the source said.

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On set, that power dynamic didn’t quite play out.

“That attitude did not fly — especially with Kaitlan,” the source said. “She won’t play second fiddle to Don.”

The gossip outlet reached out to CNN for comment. Don’t expect any to be forthcoming.

It’s been a bad few weeks for Lemon — when people are even paying attention, that is.

On Jan. 19, Fox News reported, Lemon tried to make a fashion statement by wearing a hoodie with a sport coat. The next day, CBS “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert questioned the anchor’s sartorial choices.

“I believe a great man once said, ‘What the f*** is that?'” Colbert joked. “I know they want to add some comedy to CNN, and this is hilarious, but how do you report the news in that outfit? How do you actually talk about tragedy wearing that, because what could be more tragic than that look he had this morning.”

Lemon’s response? It was a hooded sweater. Which makes all the difference, or something.

Of course, the biggest issue is that nobody seems to be paying much attention at all to Lemon (or his backup dancers).

The same week that Lemon was trying out his hoodie/sport coat combo, “CNN This Morning” had the lowest audience numbers since it launched last year, attracting just 331,000 viewers compared to “Fox & Friends” hitting 1.3 million viewers in the same time slot, according to Fox News.

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In the key 18-54 demographic, “Fox & Friends” also trounced the show, drawing 180,000 viewers compared with 65,000 for “CNN This Morning.”

So, consider Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow your backup dancers, Don Lemon. Swear that this morning show thing wasn’t a demotion. Keep on wearing sweater hoodies with blazers.

The thing about having backup dancers is that it doesn’t help if you can’t land a gig in the first place. And, unlike Lemon, Collins and Harlow are on their way up, not down, at the network.

It’s something for a certain anchor to consider, perhaps, if he’s getting a bit swell-headed in his current position.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture