WHITE House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reportedly “refused” to be interviewed by Don Lemon during her appearance on CNN This Morning this week.
Jean-Pierre was a guest on the show on Thursday, but apparently made it clear to the broadcaster that her appearance was subject to the condition that she was not interviewed by the star presenter.
The New York Post reported that a source with knowledge of the incident claimed “the White House requested that she not be interviewed by Don.”
A second source close to CNN told the Post that Jean-Pierre “refused” to continue when Lemon asked the questions.
She was instead interviewed by the show’s co-host Poppy Harlow.
An insider reportedly told the Post that Harlow was hired to do the interview because the show’s staff “needs to produce” around Lemon, which has been criticized for several on-air gaffes.
“He’s just a constant fucking distraction,” the person said.
According to the source, Jean-Pierre’s reps didn’t explain the reason for their request, but insiders suspected it was due to Lemon’s blunder on the show.
Others speculated that it could be the result of a tense on-air exchange in the past, with Lemon pressing Jean-Pierre about President Joe Biden’s mental fitness.
“We won’t detail our discussions with the media, but as always, the anchor is the network’s call, not ours,” a representative for Jean-Pierre told The Post.
However, the White House later denied that Jean-Pierre did not want to do business with Lemon.
“Karine never said that,” said a representative for the outlet.
According to CNN, the decision to let Harlow do the interview was made independently by the network.
The US Sun has reached out to Lemon officials for comment.
DO IT AGAIN
Lemon joined CNN in 2006 as a correspondent and has found success as a host on several programs.
However, the three-time Emmy winner ended up in hot water after multiple text messages allegedly revealed “diva-like behavior.”
ABC correspondent Kyra Phillips, who appeared with Lemon on CNN’s Live From show in 2008, claimed she received two threatening text messages from an unknown number a few years ago.
“Now you’ve crossed the line and you’re going to pay for it,” read one of the lyrics, which startled Phillips so much that she immediately sought help from network bosses.
Around the time she got the news, Phillips had returned from a tour of duty in Iraq — a high-profile gig Lemon reportedly wanted.
Variety reported that Lemon allegedly vented his frustration at Phillips getting the assignment, even ripping up pictures and notes on and in her desk.
The lyrics were allegedly traced back to Lemon, prompting an HR investigation by CNN, but the findings have never been publicly disclosed.
A spokesman for CNN said: “Don says the alleged incident never took place and that he was never informed of an investigation.
“CNN cannot confirm the alleged events of 15 years ago.”
A spokesperson for Don Lemon said of the Variety story, “Riddled with patently false anecdotes and no concrete evidence, the story is entirely based on baseless, unfounded, 15-year-old anonymous gossip.
“It’s amazing and disappointing that Variety is so reckless.”
A CNN spokesman added, “The Variety story provides no real evidence, instead relying on anonymous sources and unsubstantiated claims from 10 to 15 years ago.
“CNN is unable to confirm the alleged reports.”
“BEHIND YOUR PRIME”
Lemon faced backlash earlier this year after a Feb. 16 episode of CNN This Morning in which he spoke with Harlow and Collins about the age of politicians.
“I’m uncomfortable with all this talk about age,” Lemon said, referencing comments Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, 51, made about politicians over 75 — and suggesting they should be forced to take mental competency tests.
Lemon said it was the “wrong way to go down”.
“She says … politicians are not in their prime. Nikki Haley is not in her prime. I’m sorry. A woman is considered to be in her prime in her 20s and 30s and maybe in her 40s,” he said.
Harlow, 40, asked Lemon to clarify what he was trying to say, to which he replied: “That’s not my opinion … If you google ‘when is a woman in her prime’ it will say 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. I don’t necessarily have to – I’m not saying I agree with that.
The backlash was immediate and Lemon issued an apology hours later on social media, writing: “The reference I made this morning to a woman’s ‘best time’ was clumsy and irrelevant as colleagues and family have pointed out, and myself regret it.
“A woman’s age doesn’t define her personally or professionally. I have countless women in my life who prove that every day.”
He went on a short hiatus and did not appear for three episodes.