Former CNN host Don Lemon says Elon Musk has terminated a previous agreement to air his new program after the billionaire owner of X (formerly Twitter) was unhappy about an interview between the two.

“Elon Musk is mad at me,” said Lemon in a video posted to the social media network. “There’s a whole lot that went down and I’m going to tell you about it in the coming days.”

In a separate statement posted to X, Lemon said, “Elon Musk has canceled the partnership I had with X. . . . He informed me of his decision hours after an interview I conducted with him on Friday.”

Lemon says the interview, which will be published on March 18 on YouTube and major podcast distribution sites (as well as posted to X), will be the inaugural episode of his show. He did not discuss the content of the conversation, but several reports say it included questions about Musk’s use of ketamine.

X, on Wednesday, posted a statement about the dispute, saying, “we’re proud to provide an open environment for diverse voices and perspectives. 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.”

Elon Musk further addressed the decision, tweeting, “His approach was basically just ‘CNN, but on social media,’ which doesn’t work, as evidenced by the fact that CNN is dying. And, instead of it being the real Don Lemon, it was really just 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.”

Lemon’s representatives did not reply to a request for comment by Fast Company. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, however, a Lemon spokesperson said the journalist “has a deal with X and expects to be paid for it. If we have to go to court, we will.”

The terms of the contract between Lemon and X were not publicly announced when the partnership was unveiled in January, but Kara Swisher described it as a “multimillion-dollar deal” that “was a pricey effort to attract high profile media creators to X.” It was around that same time that YouTuber MrBeast rejected an appeal by Musk to post his popular videos to X.

“Elon publicly encouraged me to join X with a new show, saying I would have his ‘full support’ and that his ‘digital town square is for all,’” Lemon’s statement read. “His commitment to a global town square where all questions can be asked and all ideas can be shared seems not to include questions of him from people like me. . . . While Elon goes back on his word, I will be doubling down on my commitment to free speech and I cannot wait to get started.”

The announcement of the deal between Lemon and X in January came after six months of negotiations.

Lemon was, at one time, one of CNN’s most visible anchors and a favorite of former CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker, who resigned from the network in early 2022 after failing to acknowledge a consensual relationship with another network executive. Lemon was fired from the network last April, two months after he made on-air comments about Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley being past her prime. (Lemon apologized for those comments.)

Lemon categorized the decision as a surprise, writing on then-Twitter, “After 17 years at CNN, I would have thought someone in management would have the decency to tell me directly.” CNN, at the time, said Lemon had been given the opportunity to meet with management but chose instead to release a statement on the social media network.

The network and Lemon reached a settlement in a dispute about his termination last month, which TheWrap reported would net him $24.5 million.


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