UPDATE: On Saturday, Lemon took to Twitter to put out the internet “fire” he said he caused and to announce that the change that was come was a simple branding of the show’s name. More below.
In a rather muted announcement Friday night, CNN's Don Lemon appeared to announce the end of CNN Tonight with him at the helm and promised to share more in the days to come. But the cryptic message left many people scratching their heads and some wondering if he was out at CNN altogether, moving to a new project with the network, and who will host the coming Monday? And it turned out to be a desperate stunt to launch a fairly bland rebrand of the title.
"I appreciate all the years of CNN Tonight with Don Lemon. But changes are coming. And I will fill you in,” Lemon said as he signed off for seemingly the final time.
Lemon’s mysterious comments began with a video tweet before his show aired. “Tonight, I have an announcement about the show. Yup, end of an era,” he told fans while plotting along on a walking pad under his desk.
Another @CNNTonight exclusive. I have a big announcement. I hope you’re ok with it. See you at 10pE. #CNN pic.twitter.com/YlvNjuN5ea— Don Lemon (@donlemon) May 15, 2021
Things got more perplexing during the handoff with Prime Time host Chris Cuomo as he dodged some lighthearted probing from his friend, suggesting Cuomo would be involved in the change:
LEMON: But Listen, I have something I’m going to say at the end of the show and I want everybody to tune in. I think it’s really important and I hope everyone’s okay with it. And that’s all I’ll say.
CUOMO: So, tonight you will see something at the end of the show?
LEMON: At the end of the show. And there’ll be more to come, I’ll tell you over the weekend.
CUOMO: And there’s more to come over the weekend?
LEMON: But it involves us two. It involves you, but we'll see.
CUOMO: And it’s not bad news?
LEMON: I’m not-- well – I mean, come on.
And as promised, Lemon ended the show by seemingly announcing he was leaving the hosting duties of CNN Tonight to someone else. “It's been really, really great. This is the last night that we'll be CNN Tonight with Don Lemon. So, I appreciate all the years of CNN Tonight with Don Lemon. But changes are coming. And I will fill you in,” he said in a sober tone.
He then transitioned to touting how “very proud” he was of the Marvin Gaye special he worked on, which aired right after his show and took up his normal second hour.
Lemon’s puzzling announcement left many people stunned and scrambling for information. So much so, that Lemon had to put out another video tweet to say he wasn’t leaving CNN.
Hey everyone. Not what you think. I’m not leaving CNN. Tune in for the handoff on Monday at 10pE and I’ll explain. pic.twitter.com/oOwDferY2i— Don Lemon (@donlemon) May 15, 2021
“So, I got back down to my office after the show. Everybody calm down. I didn’t say I was leaving CNN. I just said it was an end of an era for CNN Tonight with Don Lemon. I’m not leaving CNN. So, you will have to tune in Monday at 10 o’clock to see. That’s it. So, relax. I’m not leaving,” he declared with a laugh. “I’m not leaving!”
On Saturday, Lemon took to Twitter to provided more information and announce the show’s title was getting changed to Don Lemon Tonight. “Didn’t mean to set the internet on fire. What I said last night was true. CNN Tonight with Don Lemon is no more. I’ll be back on Monday with my newly named show Don Lemon Tonight. See you Monday at 10pE,” he wrote.
Didn’t mean to set the internet on fire. What I said last night was true. CNN Tonight with Don Lemon is no more. I’ll be back on Monday with my newly named show Don Lemon Tonight. See you Monday at 10pE. pic.twitter.com/89GFXULV9m— Don Lemon (@donlemon) May 15, 2021
So, CNN and Lemon tried to pull off a ridiculous media stunt to get people to tune into his show again, while they appear to copy the name of the very popular Fox News Channel show Tucker Carlson Tonight. What a joke. This is CNN.
You can check out previous NewsBusters reporting on CNN Tonight here, and Don Lemon here.
[H/T to Fox News's Joseph Wulfsohn]