Megyn Kelly appeared to learn live on air that Don Lemon had been fired from his hosting duties at CNN while recording her podcast, “The Megyn Kelly Show,” on Monday. In her response from her, she admitted that she’s “not exactly Don Lemon’s fan,” but she contended that if the dismissal rolled out the way Lemon claimed it did, then it was a “classless” move from the network and CEO Chris Licht.
“Oh my god, so there’s now breaking news from CNN,” Kelly said, still recovering from a prior discussion about Tucker Carlson’s Fox News exit. She joked, “Oh my god, am I still employed myself?”
Responding to Lemon’s claim that he learned of his firing over the phone via his agent rather than by Licht and CNN’s upper management speaking with him directly, she conceded that he’s “not wrong” and that “if that’s true,” he deserved better treatment from the network.
“Everybody knows I’m not exactly Don Lemon’s fan, but he’s not wrong that — if that’s true, that he was just told by his agent he was fired, and they didn’t have the balls to tell him man-to-man — that’s just classless. He’s got a right to complain about that,” Kelly said.
“Something must’ve happened here,” she continued. “There must have been something like a final straw.”
In conversation with “The Megyn Kelly Show” executive producer Steve Krakauer, Kelly later revisited her curiosity of what that final straw might have been.
“Their ratings on that morning show are in the toilet. The entire daytime and primetime ratings and CNN are in the toilet. Their main competitor MSNBC is doubling them right now. They got nothing going—absolutely nothing,” Kelly said. “And I’m sure he’s making a nice salary. But so far, he’s been untouchable. So I’d love to find out what changed, because the last straw felt very suddenly.”
Lemon tweeted early Monday that after 17 years, he had been fired from CNN.
“I was informed this morning by my agent that I have terminated by CNN,” the “CNN This Morning” host wrote. “After 17 years at CNN I would have thought that someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly. At no time was I ever given any indication that I would not be able to continue to do the work I have loved at the network.”
The anchor concluded by saying “it is clear that there are some larger issues at play” and proceeded to thank his colleagues and the many teams he have worked with for an “incredible run.”
CNN in turn released a statement saying that contrary to his claims, management did reach out to Lemon.
“Don Lemon’s statement about this morning’s events is inaccurate,” the network said. “He was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter.”
The statement followed an internal memo from Licht, who said that “CNN This Morning,” the morning show that Lemon anchored alongside Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins, has been on the air for nearly six months and the network is “committed to its success. ”
“CNN and Don have parted ways,” CNN CEO Chris Licht wrote in the memo. “Don will forever be a part of the CNN family, and we thank him for his contributions over the past 17 years. We wish him well and will be cheering him on in his future endeavors of him.”
The dismissal comes two months after public and internal outcry over Lemon’s claim that Republican presidential Nikki Haley “is not in her prime,” adding that a woman is “said to be in her prime in her 20s, 30s and maybe 40s.”
From there, Variety published earlier this month a report that revealed allegations from the cable news anchor’s sprawling career, including accusations of misogyny, mocking female staffers and reckless “diva-like” behavior — accusations that Lemon vehemently denied.
Watch the segment from Monday’s “The Megyn Kelly Show” in the video above.
Loree Seitz contributed to this story.