Comedian Stephen Colbert slammed CNN host Don Lemon on Thursday for wearing a hoodie with sweatpants and a jacket on his new morning show.
During his show Thursday night, the jokester pulled up a picture of Lemon in the outfit he wore on-air for his new CNN This Morning gig earlier in the day, saying: ‘As a wise man once said, ‘What the f**k * is that?”
Colbert then continued to poke fun at Lemon, telling him he has some explaining to do — which Lemon tried to do on his morning show the next day.
He revealed his new CNN bosses had asked him to be more casual as he took over the station’s morning show, which was advertised as a ‘different morning show’ in a promo featuring Lemon in a turtle-neck.
Late night host Stephen Colbert took time out of his show Thursday night to make fun of CNN anchor Don Lemon’s outfit earlier in the day
Lemon, 56, was seen earlier in the day on his new morning show in a gray hooded sweater with gray sweatpants and a black jacket.
On his Late Show Thursday night, Colbert decided to point fun at Lemon’s outfit choice, despite calling him a ‘dear, dear friend.’
‘I was watching this morning, and I was a little taken back because I didn’t expect this,’ Colbert said, before instructing his crew to display a picture of Lemon in the very casual outfit.
‘I know they want to add some comedy to CNN,’ the comedian continued, referring to a proposal to add a late night show on the network, ‘and this is hilarious.’
But how do you report the news in that outfit? How do you talk about tragedy rising that, because what could be more tragic than that look he had this morning,” Colbert mocked.
He then went on to compare Lemon’s look to a high school track teacher who went for a run but then got a little hungry and stopped at aa restaurant.
‘But it was too nice of a restaurant and they said, ‘Excuse me sir, you have to wear a jacket.’ So then he stole a jacket from Guys and Dolls,” Colbert joked, referring to a musical set in the 1950s.
He concluded: ‘Don, you’ve got a lot to answer for.’
To his credit, Lemon took up the challenge on CNN This Morning the next day, describing his casual attitude as a Rorschach test in which people see what they want to see.
Lemon responded to the criticism on the morning show the next day
He explained that when he took over the morning show, the CNN bosses wanted him to ‘relax and be more comfortable and sort of go with what is happening in the world.’
‘So look I love Stephen Colbert,’ the embattled CNN anchor began.
But, he said: ‘It was interesting, I didn’t expect that reaction.
‘For me, it was sort of like a Rorschach test wearing that outfit,’ he said as he tried to defend the style.
‘First of all, it’s not a sweatshirt or whatever,’ Lemon claimed. ‘It’s a sweater that has a hood on it.’
At that point, Lemon that when he took the job co-anchoring CNN This Morning, his bosses asked him to ‘relax and be more comfortable and sort of go with what is happening in the world.’
‘Right now, people aren’t wearing suits as much,’ he said, after showing a montage of him in different colored suits over the years. Lots has changed since the pandemic, right?
‘So I just found it interesting that there was such a reaction, because online I got a lot of negative reaction.’
Lemon then turned to his co-anchor, Kaitlinn Collins, saying he now understands what it must be like to be a woman when they get ‘comments about their skirt, about their hair, whatever.
‘Men never get scrutinized as much,’ he said, before turning his comments directly to Colbert, saying: ‘I think that [you should] have fun with comedy.
‘I think if Barack Obama can get criticized for a tan suit, if Volodomyr Zelensky can fight a war in a hoodie, if Trayvon Martin can start a revolution in a hoodie, then Don Lemon could tell the news in a hooded sweater,’ he claimed.
‘So Stephen, I love ya, I’m glad you started this conversation, but it is like a Rorschach test.’
Don Lemon had earlier appeared in a turtle neck with a button down over it for a promotion for the new morning show
Lemon had previously promised to show viewers of the new morning show a ‘younger, more fun’ version of himself, a stark contrast from the hard-liner Americans were used to.
But in an ad for the new show, Collins tells both Lemon, 56, and co-anchor Poppy Harlow, 40, that she was ‘a freshman’ when they got their start on CNN in 2006 and 2008, respectively.
‘High school, college?’ Harlow asks.
‘Actually, I think it was the eighth grade,’ Collins, 30, replies to shock from her elder co-hosts.
The exchange is then followed by a montage of dialogue between the future morning anchors, highlighting their philosophy for the show.
‘A morning show is like when people walk into a diner,’ says Lemon. ‘You come in and you get whatever amount of news that you can, then you start your day.’
Text on the screen continues throughout the promotion, highlighting each portion of the trio’s conversation – when, at one point, ‘conversation’ is layered over the video.
‘People’s time is so valuable that if they give 15 minutes to watch the news, that’s a lot of time,’ Collins says.
‘We need to cover more of what is happening across America,’ Harlow adds, to which she then follows up on moments later with, ‘People just want to be heard.’
‘It’s really all about the conversation,’ Lemon concluded.
‘We’re the place for accuracy and we’re the place for context.’
Lemon promised that a ‘younger, more fun’ Don Lemon – different than what people are used to – will be showing up on the network each morning
Lemon previously said the show will be a more authentic version of himself and his style
The move to replace ‘New Day’ and move Lemon from primetime was one of new CEO Chris Licht’s most prominent decisions as he seeks to steer the outlet away from ‘opinion-based partisan news’ and anchors who are slam conservatives and the GOP.
A big-time critic of former President Trump and Republicans, Lemon has previously called Trump ‘the biggest snowflake of them all’ following the 2021 White House raid on January 6.
He was also widely outspoken about election fraud following the 2020 Presidential Election, and claimed Trump and Republicans were feeding GOP supporters ‘bullsh**t.’
Lemon added on to his criticism of networks continuing to cover Trump despite not being the active president.
‘It was frustrating to say the least, not that I wasn’t committed to doing it in primetime. But after Donald Trump wasn’t president anymore, and we had a war in Ukraine — that changed our approach to what we did in primetime, which was not starting every single night with a monologue about Donald Trump and how bad he was and how terrible things were in the country,’ he said.
‘So I was ready to move on and I think the audience is ready to move on as well,’ Lemon continued.
He has worked at CNN for 16 of his 40 years in journalism and served as a co-moderator for the 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate.
Poppy Harlow, left, Don Lemon (center), and Katilan Collins anchor the failing morning show
But when CNN This Morning aired in November, the show debuted to less than 390,000 viewers.
Those numbers are dismal in comparison to the show’s competition, including ‘Morning Joe’ on MSNBC, which brought in 793,000 viewers. ‘FOX and Friends,’ saw 1.5 million viewers.
“CNN This Morning” also debuted to 50,000 fewer viewers on average than the “New Day,” with just 71,000 viewers considered the network’s demographic.
During its final show, ‘New Day’ brought in just over 350,000. That number still only saw 75,000 from the network’s main demographic of adults ages 25-54.
On November 1, ‘Morning Joe’ had 114,000 in the same category and ‘FOX and Friends’ saw 236,000.
Before it began losing viewers in mass, the show averaged 413,000 viewers in 2022.