May 20, 2021

CNN anchor Don Lemon inadvertently set off a frenzy of misinformation when he made comments about the future of his prime-time show during a segment on May 14.

“It’s been really, really great,” Lemon says. “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.”

Those remarks sparked false claims — circulated on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram — that the show was canceled and the CNN veteran was leaving the network.

“Don Lemon LOSES HIS SHOW As CNN Plunges Into Further In Ratings… CNN IS DYING.” reads one YouTube video title.

“Don Lemon announced that tonight will be his last show on CNN,” a Facebook post says. “One by one they fall!”

That’s not the case. Lemon isn’t leaving CNN and his show is not being canceled — it just got a new name.

The posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Hours after making the announcement, Lemon, who has been working at CNN since 2006, posted a video on his Twitter account to clarify his comments for viewers.

“Everybody calm down, I didn’t say I was leaving CNN,” Lemon explains in the clip while laughing. “I just said it was the end of an era for ‘CNN Tonight with Don Lemon’ … so relax, I’m not leaving.”

In a second tweet, Lemon tried to dispel the confusion further by explaining that the show was being renamed, not canceled:

“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.”

Lemon returned to the prime-time slot the following week.

Our ruling

Social media posts claim that Don Lemon’s CNN show was canceled and that he is leaving CNN.

After a seven-year run, Lemon’s show, “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon,” was renamed, not canceled, and Lemon confirmed that he isn’t leaving the network. He was broadcasting again the following week.

We rate this False.

This article was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. It is republished here with permission. See the sources for these fact checks here and more of their fact checks here.

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Samantha Putterman is a fact-checker for PolitiFact based in New York. Previously, she reported for the Bradenton Herald and the Tampa Bay Times. She is…
Samantha Putterman

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