Damn! Don Lemon Says Elon Musk CANCELED His Deal with X After ‘Tense’ Interview | WATCH

Oliver Darcy, CNN

*New York (CNN) — Don Lemon’s partnership with Elon Musk went down in flames Wednesday, hours after the former CNN anchor interviewed the erratic billionaire for the debut episode of his new independent web-based show.

“Elon publicly encouraged me to join X with a new show, saying I would have his ‘full support,’” Lemon said in a statement, adding that he took Musk at his word that he was “interested in working directly with diverse voices.”

Lemon said the sit-down he conducted with Musk for the first episode of “The Don Lemon Show,” which will be released Monday on social media platforms including X and YouTube, was “respectful and wide ranging” and that “there were no restrictions on the interview that he willingly agreed to.”

“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,” Lemon added.

Don Lemon (Arturo Holmes-WireImage-Getty Images via CNN Newsource)
Don Lemon (Arturo Holmes-WireImage-Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

In a video posted on his Instagram page (watch it above) Wednesday, Lemon took further aim at Musk’s claim to be a “free speech absolutist.”

“Throughout our conversation I kept reiterating to him, although it was tense at times, I thought it was good for people to see our exchange,” Lemon said. “But apparently free speech absolutism doesn’t apply when it comes to questions about him from people like me.”

In a statement, X defended Musk’s decision to pull the plug on its agreement with Lemon.

“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,” the company said in a statement.

The statement continued: “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.”

Asked by a user on X what led to the decision, Musk attacked Lemon and CNN, which is not involved in Lemon’s new venture.

“His approach was basically just ‘CNN, but on social media’, which doesn’t work, as evidenced by the fact that CNN is dying,” Musk wrote. “And, instead of it being the real Don Lemon, it was really just [former CNN chief] Jeff Zucker talking through Don, so lacked authenticity.”

But a spokesperson for Lemon told CNN that the media personality expects Musk to honor the financial terms of the agreement.

“Don has a deal with X and expects to be paid for it,” the spokesperson said. “If we have to go to court we will.”

The deal’s implosion comes after Musk urged Lemon to launch a show on his platform, writing last year on X: “It’d be great to have [MSNBC host] Rachel Maddow, Don Lemon & others on the left put their shows on this platform. No exclusivity or legal docs required! You will receive our full support. The digital town square is for all.”

In another post, Musk directly appealed to Lemon: “Have you considered doing your show on this platform? Maybe worth a try. Audience is much bigger.”

Musk has claimed to believe in free speech absolutism, but he has repeatedly taken steps to limit the speech of critics. The billionaire has at times suspended journalists from his platform and filed lawsuits against watchdogs for publishing reports critical of X.

While Musk frequently launches ugly attacks on journalists and traditional news organizations, he has simultaneously elevated conspiracy theories and extremist rhetoric.

Last year, Musk endorsed an antisemitic conspiracy theory, which resulted in droves of advertisers fleeing X. Only then, days afterward, did Musk publicly express remorse for his actions.

Lemon was ousted from CNN last year, in a decision that the longtime anchor said left him “stunned.” No specific reason was given by CNN for Lemon’s dismissal, but it came after he was widely criticized for making sexist comments about then-GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley. Lemon apologized for the remarks at the time, saying, “When I make a mistake, I own it. And I own this one as well.”

This story has been updated with statements posted on X and additional context.

MORE NEWS ON EURWEB: Don Lemon Reflects on Hosting New Show After CNN Ouster: ‘I Don’t Have to Worry About Getting in Trouble’

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