Viewers are continuing to flee from CNN anchor Don Lemon, even after relaunching his primetime program amid his dramatic ratings slump.
Last week marked the debut of “Don Lemon Tonight,” which is virtually no different than the anchor’s long-running two-hour program “CNN Tonight.” The only difference between both shows was that “CNN Tonight” had higher ratings.
“Don Lemon Tonight” averaged a measly 816,000 viewers in his 10 pm ET timeslot from May 17-21, which is an 11% decrease from Lemon’s final week of “CNN Tonight,” which averaged 898,000 viewers from May 10-14, according to Nielsen data.
Lemon’s viewership has seen a steep decline since the beginning of the year, when his show averaged 3.48 million viewers during the week of the Capitol Hill riot that took place back on Jan. 6, marking a whopping 77% decline.
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The primetime anchor was hoping to generate buzz after what critics described as a “desperate” publicity stunt when he seemed to suggest to viewers on his May 14 broadcast that he was parting ways with CNN.
“It’s been really, really great. This is the last night that will be ‘CNN Tonight with Don Lemon,’” Lemon said at the end of his show after plugging a major announcement throughout the day. “So, I appreciate all the years of ‘CNN Tonight with Don Lemon.’ But changes are coming. And I will fill you in.”
The announcement sparked a wild response on social media with both fans and critics sounding the alarm of his apparently sudden departure from the liberal network.
Shortly after, Lemon took to Twitter and assured his viewers that he was not leaving CNN.
“Everybody, calm down,” Lemon said. “I didn’t say I was leaving CNN, I just said that it was the end of an era for ‘CNN Tonight with Don Lemon.’”
He added, “You’ll have to tune in on Monday at 10 o’clock to see.”
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Lemon later revealed that his show was simply being renamed from “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon” to “Don Lemon Tonight.”
“Didn’t mean to set the internet on fire. What I said last night was true,” Lemon wrote Saturday morning. “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon is no more. I’ll be back on Monday with my newly named show Don Lemon Tonight.
Washington Examiner writer Becket Adams blasted the stunt, calling it “shameless self-promotion” in order to “resuscitate” his “flailing ratings.”
“Lemon knows exactly what he is doing. All the hype following his teased ‘announcement’ isn’t an accident. Lemon deliberately orchestrated a self-serving mini-news cycle to get people to tune into his stupid TV show,” Adams wrote on Sunday.
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NewsBusters analyst Nicholas Fondacaro knocked the “bland rebrand.”
“So, CNN and Lemon tried to pull off a ridiculous media stunt to get people to tune into his show again, while they appear to copy the name of the very popular Fox News Channel show “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Fondacaro said. “What a joke. This is CNN.”