Here today – Don tomorrow.

The timing had all the makings of a TV farce. Just as newsrooms around the world were scrambling to make sense of the shock ousting of another titan of cable news – namely Tucker Carlson’s departure from Fox – Don Lemon took to Twitter on Monday to announce his equally sudden dismissal from CNN, where he’d worked for nearly 17 years.

‘I was informed this morning by my agent that I have been terminated by CNN. I am stunned,’ the 57-year-old TV anchor raged in a blistering statement.

Only hours earlier, Lemon – who reportedly earned $4 million a year – had happily tweeted a clip from that day’s edition of CNN This Morning, which he co-hosted. Little did he know it would be his last.

No one ‘in management’ had the ‘decency’ to tell him directly, he continued. ‘It is clear that there are some larger issues at play.’

For their part, CNN hit back, slamming Lemon’s claims as ‘inaccurate’ and saying he had been ‘offered an opportunity to meet with management.’

As newsrooms around the world were scrambling to make sense of another cable news shock departure, Don Lemon took to Twitter to announce his equally sudden dismissal from CNN

As newsrooms around the world were scrambling to make sense of another cable news shock departure, Don Lemon took to Twitter to announce his equally sudden dismissal from CNN

As newsrooms around the world were scrambling to make sense of another cable news shock departure, Don Lemon took to Twitter to announce his equally sudden dismissal from CNN

But while pundits jumped on-air to express their profound surprise at Carlson’s exit from Fox News, few voices could be found to say the same of Lemon’s demise.

After all, this has been long overdue.

Indeed, Lemon’s departure comes just weeks after DailyMail.com reported that female CNN employees were increasingly concerned Lemon had become ‘untouchable’ – and that network bosses were protecting him despite a litany of accusations of cruel misogyny and maltreatment of co-workers going back decades.

‘Without a doubt, a white straight male would have been fired by now,’ one employee said of Lemon, who came out as gay in 2011. ‘He’s a minority in his race and sexuality… Don seems to be in a protected class, and he continues to get away with behavior that others wouldn’t.’

That protection is now finally over. However, as well-placed CNN insiders exclusively reveal today, Lemon may not have gotten the axe over what everyone is assuming was the final affront.

DON BECOMES A ‘WHIRLING DERVISH IN AN UNCONTROLLABLE TAILSPIN’

Early reports pointed to a particularly combative interview last week with Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, in which Lemon became visibly frustrated with his guest.

Ramaswamy had recently spoken at the annual National Rifle Association convention, where he made the controversial observation that Southern Democrats — in the aftermath of the Civil War — restricted the gun rights of newly freed black people and sought to keep them in bondage.

Lemon’s CNN co-host Poppy Harlow initially questioned Ramaswamy. It was palpably tense on set, but civil.

Only when Lemon chimed in did it turn ugly.

‘When you are in black skin and you live in this country, then you can disagree with me,’ Lemon snapped at Ramaswany, an Indian-American man, before repeatedly accusing him of lying and failing to provide evidence.

‘I think what happened was his head exploded and he lost himself,’ Ramaswamy told DailyMail.com this week.

Early reports pointed to a particularly combative interview last week with Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, in which Lemon became visibly frustrated

Early reports pointed to a particularly combative interview last week with Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, in which Lemon became visibly frustrated

Early reports pointed to a particularly combative interview last week with Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, in which Lemon became visibly frustrated 

‘My comments threw him for a loop… He became a whirling dervish in an uncontrollable tailspin. He was screaming at the producers in his earpiece.’

Many observers have since claimed the unprofessional on-air outburst finally convinced CNN executives that it was time for Lemon to go. But, not so, according to the CNN insiders who spoke to DailyMail.com.

‘Everyone is talking about the way he interacted with Vivek,’ one source said. ‘But the way he talked to Poppy at the end of that interview, which kind of got lost in the explosiveness, was not lost on Poppy or the executives.’

‘You can just tell from Poppy’s body language that she was frustrated – and that he’ll never learn.’

Watch the interview closely — and you will hear Lemon appear to rudely cut off his colleague, as she tries to move things along from the confrontation and wrap up the interview.

‘Ok, can we move on now please,’ he interjects, leaning back and buttoning his jacket.

Poppy – seemingly exasperated – turns to Lemon.

‘Thank you,’ she says shortly, and carries on.

‘That is what he was accused of doing over and over again,’ a CNN source said. ‘That was the pattern – dismissing, cutting off, big footing.’

‘And while executives might not have liked the emotional messiness of that Vivek interview, what they really don’t want is the continued allegations of sexism and misogyny. Ultimately, I think that was more damaging.’

¿I think what happened was his head exploded and he lost himself,¿ Ramaswamy told DailyMail.com this week

¿I think what happened was his head exploded and he lost himself,¿ Ramaswamy told DailyMail.com this week

‘I think what happened was his head exploded and he lost himself,’ Ramaswamy told DailyMail.com this week

When DailyMail.com reached out for a response to these insider allegations, CNN declined to comment.

TROUBLED ANCHOR LEAVES BITTER TASTE: ‘HE HAS BURNED ALL HIS BRIDGES HERE’

‘Everyone is celebrating his firing. For months, people were wondering what it was going to take,’ one source said of the mood inside the network now that he’s gone.

‘People are relieved. Now we can all get back to work,’ another added. ‘It was a nuisance having to interact with Don – his antics were distracting. The feeling was that the network was protecting him at the expense of others. And that made CNN a tough place to work for a while.’

‘The tension is now much lower, specifically among women who felt as though this should have happened a long time ago,’ a third insider revealed.

Certainly, Lemon’s exit represents a crushing fall from grace for a man who became one of the best-known faces on American TV.

Highly ambitious and with an obvious knack for on-screen reportage, Lemon rose quickly through the ranks after joining CNN in 2006, earning a self-titled show eight years later.

From there, his career went from strength to strength, with Lemon embraced at the liberal network as the poster-boy of the woke establish and authority on race issues in an increasingly divided America.

Lemon¿s exit represents a crushing fall from grace for a man who became one of the best-known faces on American TV

Lemon¿s exit represents a crushing fall from grace for a man who became one of the best-known faces on American TV

Lemon’s exit represents a crushing fall from grace for a man who became one of the best-known faces on American TV

That was until last year, when CNN viewing figures collapsed. March ratings were down some 61% and Licht – who took over in May – moved to steer the struggling network away from stale, partisan political commentary.

As such, Lemon promptly lost his prime-time hosting gig and was moved instead to join journalists Poppy Harlow and Kaitlin Collins on the newly minted CNN This Morning show.

Negative reports began to emerge almost immediately.

First, in December, we heard that his co-host Kaitlin Collins, 30, was rumored to have fled the set in tears after Lemon berated her for interrupting him during a segment.

Then in February this year, things bubbled over further, as Lemon was accused of blatant on-screen misogyny.

In a live segment discussing Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, 51, Lemon said: ‘[She] isn’t in her prime, sorry. A woman is considered to be in their prime in 20s and 30s and maybe 40s.’

Harlow, 41, appeared shocked by what she was hearing: ‘What are you talking about, wait… prime for what?’

Following an increasingly uncomfortable back and forth, Harlow reportedly left the set ‘with Collins following her to try to talk to her.’

The ugly incident saw Lemon taken off-air for three days. But after the short absence, a ‘frank and meaningful conversation’ with Licht and an agreement to undertake a single day of training, he was back.

Insiders branded the weak punishment ‘a f***ing joke’.

Lemon promptly lost his prime-time hosting gig and was moved instead to join journalists Poppy Harlow (right) and Kaitlin Collins (left) on the newly minted CNN This Morning show

Lemon promptly lost his prime-time hosting gig and was moved instead to join journalists Poppy Harlow (right) and Kaitlin Collins (left) on the newly minted CNN This Morning show

Lemon promptly lost his prime-time hosting gig and was moved instead to join journalists Poppy Harlow (right) and Kaitlin Collins (left) on the newly minted CNN This Morning show

STORIES OF LEMON’S ALLEGED MISOGYNISTIC ABUSE ‘CAME OUT OF THE WOODWORK’

Then, earlier this month, a searing take-down emerged in Variety Magazine, headlined simply: ‘Don Lemon’s Misogyny at CNN, Exposed.’

The article depicted Lemon as a power-hungry, jealous and viciously competitive colleague, dating back to his early days at CNN Atlanta.

Just two years after joining the network in 2006, Lemon began co-anchoring a weekday show with veteran journalist Kyra Phillips.

The pair reportedly didn’t see eye to eye – but things turned downright bizarre after Lemon is said to have launched a secret intimidation campaign against Phillips after she was selected for a plum job to be embedded with US forces in Iraq.

Lemon would ‘tear up pictures and notes on top of and inside Phillips’ desk’ in a cubicle they shared, Variety claimed.

When she returned from Iraq, sources claim she also received threatening text messages from an unknown number that read, ‘Now you’ve crossed the line, and you’re going to pay for it.’

The texts were reportedly traced to Lemon, though he denies the claims.

In a statement at the time CNN dismissed the Variety article as ‘patently false’ and ‘unsubstantiated’ – a response which insiders called ‘galling’.

‘This year and last year women have complained to CNN management,’ a source told DailyMail.com at the time. ‘There have been complaints about on-air comments but also things that he’s said off-camera that are degrading, and completely inappropriate in the workplace… I know that there are multiple women who feel ignored and unsupported.’

‘After the Nikki Haley episode, lots more stories came out of the woodwork,’ the source added.

In a segment discussing Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, 51, Lemon said: ¿[She] isn't in her prime, sorry. A woman is considered to be in their prime in 20s and 30s and maybe 40s'

In a segment discussing Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, 51, Lemon said: ¿[She] isn't in her prime, sorry. A woman is considered to be in their prime in 20s and 30s and maybe 40s'

In a segment discussing Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, 51, Lemon said: ‘[She] isn’t in her prime, sorry. A woman is considered to be in their prime in 20s and 30s and maybe 40s’

Things got so bad that some women were reportedly refusing to appear on TV alongside him.

CNN declined to comment on these fresh allegations – but now it seems the line has finally changed.

What comes next for Lemon is anyone’s guess. Though, in a potential sign that he may now seek a legal battle with CNN, it’s been reported that he’s hired prominent Hollywood lawyer Bryan Freedman.

According to the New York Times, Lemon’s contract ran through to 2026, meaning he could be entitled to millions.

As for the future of the network, a senior CNN produicer said: ‘No one is worried that this will hurt ratings… Don will be replaced with someone who treats everyone, especially women, with respect.’

But the question that surely remains is: if executives are finally admitting Lemon was such a problem, why on Earth did it take so long?

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