Don Lemon says Elon Musk canceled his planned show on X after 'tense' interview

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"Elon Musk is mad at me," the former CNN anchor said in a video posted to Instagram.

Former CNN anchor Don Lemon has announced the end of his partnership with X owner, Elon Musk.

The TV personality was days away from launching The Don Lemon Show, a new program to be released on the social media platform, when Musk pulled the plug. In a statement on X, Lemon revealed that he was informed of the decision just hours after filming a “tense” interview with Musk for the show.

Lemon added, “We had a good conversation. Clearly he felt differently.”

Although X will no longer debut the series, Lemon said that episodes — including his conversation with Musk — will still be available on YouTube and various platforms on March 18, the day it was slated to launch: “While Elon goes back on his word, I will be doubling down on my commitment to free speech.”

<p>Jamie McCarthy/Getty; Pascal Le Segretain/Getty</p> Don Lemon and Elon Musk

Jamie McCarthy/Getty; Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

Don Lemon and Elon Musk

In an Instagram follow-up video, Lemon offered more details about the disagreement.

“Elon Musk is mad at me,” he told followers. “There’s a whole lot that went down and I’m gonna tell you about it in the coming days.”

Lemon, who was abruptly fired from CNN in 2023, went on to explain that he originally struck the deal because of his belief in freedom of speech. “Speaking of free speech, I thought the first person to interview, no brainer, Elon Musk — the man who calls himself a ‘free speech absolutist,'" he said.

Though Musk “willingly agreed to the interview,” things took a turn while they were filming.

“Throughout our conversation, I kept reiterating to him — although it was tense at times — I thought it was good for people to see our exchange, and that they would learn from our conversation,” Lemon said. “But, apparently free-speech absolutism doesn’t apply when it comes to questions about him from people like me.”

Following Lemon’s post, the X Business account shared a statement which read, “The Don Lemon Show is welcome to publish its content on X, without censorship, as we believe in providing a platform for creators to scale their work and connect with new communities. However, like any enterprise, we reserve the right to make decisions about our business partnerships, and after careful consideration, X decided not to enter into a commercial partnership with the show.”

From his own account, Musk voiced his criticisms of the program: “His approach was basically just ‘CNN, but on social media,’ which doesn’t work, as evidenced by the fact that CNN is dying,” he wrote. “And, instead of it being the real Don Lemon, it was really just [former CNN boss] Jeff Zucker talking through Don, so lacked authenticity. All this said, Lemon/Zucker are of course welcome to build their viewership on this platform along with everyone else.”

Aside from the canceled Don Lemon project, X has partnered with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, former Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, and sports talk show host Jim Rome to launch new shows.

Musk has called himself an advocate of free speech and often points to his buying Twitter (which he renamed X) and reinstating accounts that were permanently suspended under prior management — including that of former President Donald Trump. That said, Musk has been heavily criticized for suppressing free speech since taking over the website, and has presided over X while several critics of the company have been banned and suspended from the platform.

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