Elon Musk Abruptly Cancels 'The Don Lemon Show' on X; Former CNN Anchor Says the Billionaire Got 'Mad' at Him

By Jace Dela Cruz

Mar 14, 2024 04:24 AM EDT

Elon Musk's decision to cancel "The Don Lemon Show" on his social media platform X after he sat for the program's first interview has stirred controversy.  

KRAKOW, POLAND - JANUARY 22: SpaceX, X (formerly known as Twitter), and Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during live interview with Ben Shapiro at the symposium on fighting antisemitism on January 22, 2024 in Krakow, Poland.
(Photo : Omar Marques/Getty Images)

Elon Musk Cancels 'The Don Lemon Show' on X

Elon Musk, who owns X, formerly known as Twitter, often emphasized his commitment to free speech. However, X announced the cancellation of the show without providing detailed reasons. 

In a post on X, the company said that after careful consideration, it "decided not to enter into a commercial partnership with the show."

It added that "The Don Lemon Show" could still "publish its content on X, without censorship," as the company believes "in providing a platform for creators to scale their work and connect with new communities."

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Don Lemon Says Elon Musk Is Mad at Him

According to the Associated Press, the former CNN anchor said in a video posted to X that the recorded interview with Elon Musk will be aired on YouTube and via podcast on Monday. Lemon added that the tech billionaire "is mad at me," without going into specifics.

However, he wrote: "Throughout our conversation, I kept reiterating to him that although it was tense at times, I thought it was good for people to see and hear our exchange and that they would learn from our conversation. But apparently free speech absolutism doesn't apply when it comes to questions about him from people like me." 

In an interview with CNN anchor Erin Burnett on Wednesday, Lemon discussed his exchange with Musk and shared video excerpts from the 90-minute sit-down, in which the billionaire was asked questions on various topics.

During the interview, Musk appeared reluctant to engage with Lemon's inquiries about content moderation and hate speech on X. When asked about the platform's responsibility to moderate hateful content, the billionaire asserted his prerogative to decline questions from reporters.

"The only reason I'm in this interview is because you're on the X platform and you asked for it. Otherwise, I would not be doing this interview," Musk said.

And when asked about the criticism he has faced on the issue of hate speech, the X owner noted, "I'm criticized constantly. I could care less."

An X user later asked Musk what led to the decision to cancel his platform's partnership with Lemon, and he said on Wednesday that the former anchor could not shake off his CNN "approach." 

"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 [former CNN chief] 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," Musk wrote.

A spokesperson for Lemon told CNN that the media personality has a deal with X and expects to be paid based on the financial terms of the agreement, or they will "go to court" if necessary.

People familiar with the matter also told CNN that Lemon technically had not inked a contract with X, but contracts do not need to be signed to be legally binding, especially if it is clear that both sides had arrived at a mutual understanding. 

Aside from public announcements, the sources said Musk seemed to have acknowledged the deal as he texted the UTA power agent who represents Lemon, saying the "contract is canceled." 

As part of X's efforts to diversify its content offerings, Lemon's show was reportedly intended to attract advertisers and new users and increase the platform's user base.

READ MORE: Elon Musk's X Is Rolling Out a YouTube Clone for Amazon, Samsung Smart TVs

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