Don Lemon has been accused of many things, but being camera-shy is certainly not one of them.
Days after the former star anchor was terminated by CNN, Lemon walked a red carpet Wednesday evening, telling press he’s ready for his new chapter.
“I don’t have to rush to another job — even if I want another job,” Lemon said on the red carpet at the Time 100 gala in New York City on Wednesday night. “I want to work again. But I am lucky enough to be in a position where I don’t have to worry about those things.”
Speaking to various media outlets at the gala, Lemon was in high spirits with a smile on his face, despite his departure — and alleged behavior in the workplace, as reported by Variety — dominating headlines.
“I’m doing well, and I’m here to celebrate,” Lemon told Entertainment Tonight. “I’m happy to be here… I am happy to be moving in a new direction. I’m going to miss all the talented people and journalists at CNN, who are my friends and who I love, and who I’ve been speaking to… I’m fine, life is good.”
“I think my statement speaks for itself,” Lemon told Extra, commenting on his own words following news of the termination. “Yeah, it was a surprise. But life goes on. That’s behind me, and we’ll see what happens in the future.”
On Monday, when news broke that CNN had fired Lemon, he issued a statement saying that he was “stunned” and claimed he was informed by his agent of his termination.
“After 17 years at CNN I would have thought that someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly,” Lemon said Monday. “At no time was I ever given any indication that I would not be able to continue to do the work I have loved at the network. It is clear that there are some larger issues at play. With that said, I want to thank my colleagues and the many teams I have worked with for an incredible run. They are the most talented journalists in the business, and I wish them all the best.”
CNN pushed back on Lemon’s statement, offering a different version of events: “Lemon was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter,” the company said.
Lemon’s termination came after he made now-infamous remarks on his morning show, suggesting that Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley was past her “prime,” garnering a torrent of nonstop backlash and unwanted attention. Then, Variety reported that the anchor’s behavior toward women has been called into question several times over the course of his career. This week, after his termination, a source told Variety that after his past-her-prime comments, executives had concerns about Lemon’s ability to connect with audiences, bookers were having trouble lining up certain guests and ad-sales execs at corporate parent Warner Bros. Discovery faced headwinds when trying to secure sponsors for the program.
On Wednesday night, Lemon dodged specific questions regarding the ins-and-outs of his departure from CNN.
When asked by Extra, “Are you going after the company?” Lemon instead gave a preview of his near future.
“I’m going to spend my summer on the beach and on the boat and with my family, and just chill out and then I’ll see what happens next,” he said. “I am excited for a new chapter because life is short, and whatever life hands you, you have to bob-and-weave and do it… I’m a survivor.”
Asked by Time, “What influence have you left at CNN?” Lemon responded, “Why don’t you ask my colleagues? I think they’ll probably have a good answer.”
Speaking to a group of reporters on the red carpet, Lemon put it all in perspective and spoke about some of the challenges he has faced in his life, noting the tragic death of his sister in 2018 and losing his father young from diabetes. “Listen, I didn’t lose my job. I lost my sister. A job is something that is not as important as a person,” Lemon said. “I know what’s important in life.”