Fired CNN anchor Don Lemon is leaving the network with at least $25 million — but has still lawyered up for a potential legal battle with his former employer, Page Six has exclusively confirmed.
Lemon, the 51-year-old former co-host of “CNN This Morning,” had signed a high $7 million-a-year contract with CNN in September that runs until 2026, sources said.
Meanwhile, Lemon has hired high-powered Los Angeles entertainment attorney Bryan Freedman to secure his exit and probe whether the former anchor is entitled to a further settlement, Page Six is told.
Freedman, co-founder of the law firm Freedman & Taitelman LLP, is also representing Lemon’s former CNN colleague Chris Cuomo — who remains in arbitration with CNN and is demanding $125 million for being fired. Cuomo was canned in 2021 for advising his brother, then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, during the latter’s public scandals.
A source with knowledge of Lemon’s deal at CNN said: “Don was signed on a high seven-figure deal for the morning show last September, and is assured by CNN he will be paid the remainder of his contract, which runs until 2026.
“He has retained lawyer Bryan Freedman to conclude this deal, and also to investigate if Don could be eligible to further damages surrounding the conditions of his exit.”
Cuomo remains in litigation with the network and claims he was entitled to a staggering $125 million payout because CNN allegedly defamed him on his way out the door. He called his termination by the scandal-scarred news outlet “the epitome of hypocrisy,” according to the legal papers.
In a scorched-earth filing with the JAMS mediation and arbitration service filed in 2022, Cuomo alleged that his former employer “has a long-established pattern and practice of selectively enforcing its policies based on cynical calculations of public perception.”
The dramatic news of Lemon’s firing was announced by the anchor himself, who tweeted that the network informed his agent that he had been let go instead of executives telling him directly.
CNN then released a statement denying Lemon’s claim, saying: “Don Lemon’s statement about this morning’s events is inaccurate. He was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter.”
Lemon has been the subject of controversy since his morning show debuted late last year. Earlier this month, CNN boss Chris Licht admitted that the former primetime star has been a “lightning rod” for controversy — days after a damning report in Variety alleged years of “diva-like” and misogynistic behavior by Lemon.
Lemon has hired former CNN flack Allison Gollust as his crisis spokesperson following his ouster. Gollust’s affair with her then-CNN boss Jeff Zucker was exposed in the wake of Cuomo’s firing, and both she and Zucker swiftly departed the network.
Gollust and Zucker conspired for years to keep their “open secret” affair quiet with “a web of lies,” The Post reported in 2022. Gollust repeatedly told female reporters they were “sexist” and “misogynistic” for asking if she was sleeping with her boss, even as the two carried on their trysts.
An insider added, “There is no irony lost on anyone in the media that Gollust — who covered up her own affair by attacking reporters who dared to ask her about her relationship with Zucker as sexist and misogynists — is now representing Lemon amid his accusations of bullying female colleagues. Don needs to find someone to represent him who has some grasp of the truth.”
Gollust didn’t comment, nor did Lemon’s agent. Freedman didn’t respond and CNN didn’t immediately get back to Page Six.