Dan Lemon Says Elon Musk Canceled His Deal With X After 'Tense' Interview

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Don Lemon attends the 2023 Time100 Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 26, 2023 in New York City.

New York

Dan Lemon said Wednesday that his partnership with Elon Musk is under fire, hours after the former CNN anchor conducted an interview with the erratic billionaire for the first episode of his new independent web-based show last week.

“Elan publicly encouraged me to join X with a new show, saying I would have his 'full support,'” Lemon said in a statement, “and Musk accepted that he was interested in working directly with diverse voices.”

Lemon said his sit-down with Musk was “respectful and open” and “no holds barred” during the first episode of “The Dan Lemon Show,” which will be released Monday on social media platforms including X and YouTube. In an interview to which he willingly agreed.”

“His commitment to a global city square where all questions can be asked and all ideas can be shared doesn't add to the questions about him from people like me,” Lemmon added.

A Video published On his Instagram page on Wednesday, Lemon took further aim at Musk's claim that he is a “free speech absolutist.”

“Throughout our conversation I kept reiterating to him that even though it was tense at times, I thought it was good for people to see our exchange,” Lemon said. “But open free speech doesn't apply when questions about him come from people like me.”

In a statement, X supported Musk's decision to pull its deal with Lemonade.

“The Dan Lemon Show is welcome to publish its content on X without censorship because we believe it provides a platform for creators to scale their work and connect with new communities,” the company said in a statement. “However, like any company, we reserve the right to make decisions about our business partnerships and, after careful consideration, have decided not to enter into a business partnership with X Show.”

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Asked by a user on X what led to the decision, Musk hit out at Lemon and CNN, which was not involved in Lemon's new venture.

“His approach was basically 'CNN, but on social media,' and proof that it doesn't work and that CNN is dying,” Musk wrote. “And, instead of it being the real Don Lemon, it's actually fair [former CNN chief] Jeff Zucker speaks through Don, so no credibility.

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

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

The deal blew up after Musk urged Lemon to launch a show on his platform, writing in X last year: “It’s going to be great. [MSNBC host] Rachel Maddow, left, Dan Lemmon and others performed on this stage. No special or legal documents required! You will get our full support. Digital Town Square is for everyone.

In another post, Musk appealed directly to Lemon: “Have you thought about doing your show on this platform? Maybe worth a try. The audience is huge. ”

Musk has said he believes in free speech, 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 statements critical of X.

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

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Last year, Musk endorsed an antisemitic conspiracy theory that resulted in advertisers pulling out of X in droves. A few days later, Musk publicly regretted his actions.

Lemon was fired from CNN last year, a decision the longtime anchor said “stunned” him. No specific reason was given by CNN for Lemon's firing, but he was widely criticized for making sexist comments about then-GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley. Lemon apologized for the comments at the time, saying, “If I'm wrong, I own it. And I own this.”

This story has been updated with additional context and reports published in X.

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