On the same day Michael Avenatti was found guilty of bilking $300,000 from adult film actress Stormy Daniels, CNN star Don Lemon used the airwaves of the network to eulogize ousted network president Jeff Zucker.
On Friday’s Don Lemon Tonight, the 55-year-old host broke his silence over Zucker’s forced resignation for failing to disclose his “consensual relationship” with the woman he elevated to his No. 2.
That has promoted network insiders to calls for Lemon to also be dumped.
In 2018, Avenatti was infamously photographed at the Sag Harbor, New York, home of Lemon along with conservative political commentator Margaret Hoover, and New York television journalist Errol Louis.
Avenatti, at the time, had repeatedly appeared as a guest on Lemon’s show.
“Don failed to give the Michael Avenatti verdict — a major story — the prominence it deserved and instead used our precious air to gush over Zucker,” a source told Radar.
“Don seems to think we all forget how close he was to Avenatti. They were best pals and drinking buddies! Now he is censoring what his audience watches, and manipulating the top news of the day, so he can fawn over a boss who broke the company’s rules.
“CNN was biased when Jeff was in charge, but it is a rudderless ship when people like Don can now harm what credibility the network has left.
“This is nothing short of biased reporting. Here is Don Lemon bemoaning the demise of Zucker, but he did nothing about his pals’ inappropriate relationship despite knowing — if not being complicit — in this ‘open secret.’
“Don turned a blind eye to it. How does that make him a trustworthy source of information moving forward?”
Lemon’s relationship with Zucker was the subject of much scrutiny at the cable giant, with former on-air host Brooke Baldwin suggesting the 56-year-old boss ran a “boys club.”
The coziness of Lemon, Zucker and his lover, Allison Gollust, CNN’s Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, was revealed in a photograph that linked the trio together at a Billy Joel concert in November 2021 (alongside fellow on-air host Fareed Zakaria.)
“It’s been a really tough day today, and a tough few days for us here at CNN, all week really,” said Lemon on his Friday broadcast.
“I didn’t want to talk about it until tonight. So, the truth is that we’re all heartbroken because we lost our leader here. We lost the man who was the backbone, the glue, and the spirit of this company.”
Lemon escaped punishment from Zucker over a 2018 incident at Murf’s Backstreet Tavern, a local watering hole in Sag Harbor, when he allegedly shoved his hands down the pants, and fondled the genitals of a stranger in a bar, Dustin Hice.
Lemon allegedly “removed his hand and shoved his index and middle fingers under Hice’s nose asking if he liked ‘p*ssy’ or ‘d*ck,’” according to a legal complaint.
Hice is suing Don Lemon over sexual assault allegations and has subsequently branded CNN as a “predator protecting machine.”
The source whined: “How Can Lemon sit on his moral high horse and rip everyone from the media to politicians and individuals who he says are bigots when a scratch of his own surface reveals a huge tapestry of conflicts of interest.”