June 3, 2023

Don Lemon has been accused of many things, but being camera shy is definitely not one of them.

Days after the former star anchor was terminated by CNN, Lemon walked the red carpet Wednesday night and told the press he’s ready for his new chapter.

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“I don’t have to rush to another job — even if I want another job,” Lemon said on the red carpet at the Time 100 gala in New York City on Wednesday night. “I want to work again. But I’m lucky to be in a position where I don’t have to worry about those things.”

Speaking to several media outlets at the gala, Lemon was in good spirits with a smile on his face, despite his departure – and alleged behavior in the workplace, as reported by Variety – dominating headlines.

“I’m fine, and I’m here to celebrate,” Lemon told Entertainment Tonight. “I’m happy to be here… I’m happy to go in a new direction. I’m going to miss all the talented people and journalists at CNN who are my friends and who I love and who I’ve talked to… I’m fine, life is good.”

“I think my statement speaks for itself,” Lemon told Extra, responding to his own words following the news of the termination. “Yes, it was a surprise. But life goes on. That is behind me and we will see what happens in the future.”

On Monday, when news broke that CNN had fired Lemon, he released a statement saying he was “stunned” and claimed he was notified of his firing by his agent.

“After 17 years at CNN, I would have thought someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly,” Lemon said Monday. “I was never given any indication that I wouldn’t be able to continue doing the work I loved at the network. It is clear that there are bigger problems at play. That said, I want to thank my colleagues and the many teams I’ve worked with for an incredible run. They are the most talented journalists in the industry and I wish them all the best.”

CNN responded to Lemon’s statement, offering a different version of events: “Lemon was given a chance to meet with management, but instead posted a statement on Twitter,” the company said.

Lemon’s resignation came after he made infamous comments on his morning show, suggesting that Republican presidential nominee Nikki Haley had passed her “prime,” drawing a deluge of nonstop backlash and unwanted attention. Than, Variety reported that the anchor’s behavior towards women has been called into question several times over the course of his career. This week, after his firing, a source said Variety that following his past comments, executives were concerned about Lemon’s ability to connect with the public, bookers had trouble finding certain guests and ad salespeople at parent company Warner Bros. program.

On Wednesday night, Lemon evaded specific questions about the ins and outs of his departure from CNN.

When asked by Extra, “Are you going after the company?” Lemon instead gave a preview of his near future.

“I’m going to spend my summer on the beach and on the boat and with my family and just relax and see what happens next,” he said. “I’m excited for a new chapter because life is short, and whatever life brings you, you have to bob and weave and do it… I’m a survivor.”

Requested by Time, “What influence have you left at CNN?” Lemon replied, “Why don’t you ask my colleagues?” I think they will probably have a good answer.”

In conversation with a group of journalists on the red carpet, Lemon put it all in perspective and spoke about some of the challenges he has faced in his life, noting the tragic death of his sister in 2018 and losing his father young to diabetes. “Look, I didn’t lose my job. I lost my sister. A job is something that is not as important as a person,” said Lemon. “I know what’s important in life.”

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