AllSides analyzed media outlets to determine how they covered both stories, and which of the two stories earned more prominence in outlets on the left and right.
Quick Recap: Lemon Fired
Lemon was placed on leave in February after he made an on-air comment about Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley. He said, “Nikki Haley isn't in her prime. Sorry. When — a woman is considered to be in her prime in her 20s and 30s, and maybe 40s,” which some argued was sexist and ageist. On April 24, he tweeted about his termination, saying “After 17 years at CNN I would have thought that someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly.” CNN’s media team responded, saying that Lemon’s tweet was inaccurate and that he was offered a time to meet with management.
How the Left Covered The Don Lemon Firing
Outlets on the left more frequently mentioned Chis Licht, the CEO of CNN, in their coverage than the right. The left outlets also frequently mentioned Fox News, whereas on the right, there was very little mention of Fox News.
How the Right Covered The Don Lemon Firing
The words mentioned on the right included Collins, Haley, women, and black. Kaitlan Collins was one of Don Lemon’s coworkers at CNN, who wished him the best after his departure. Nikki Haley and Lemon’s comments on women were a factor in his departure, with some outlets on the right mentioning an allegation that Lemon said Soledad O’Brien was not authentically black.
How Coverage Compared to Tucker Carlson’s Fox News Departure
Tucker Carlson’s departure from Fox News was a bigger story than Don Lemon’s firing, as Lemon was already on leave, while Carlson’s departure was unexpected. It also likely earned more attention because Carlson had more influence in the media sphere – his show brought in 3.3 million average total viewers and was the top ranked cable news show in 2021. Comparatively, Don Lemon brought in 725,000 viewers on his show Don Lemon Tonight in 2021.
Because of Carlson’s influence, some outlets put the news about Lemon’s departure next to Carlson’s, but slightly lower on the homepage.
Note: all screenshots were taken on April 24, 2023 at 1:30pm EST.
However, there was some evidence of bias by placement found within outlets on both ends of the political spectrum.
For instance, The New York Post (Lean Right) placed the news story about Don Lemon prominently above any story on Tucker Carlson, perhaps showing the right-wing media outlet has a bias toward displaying “bad news” for the left.
On the left, The New York Times (Lean Left)’s homepage featured four news articles about Tucker Carlson, two of which were about him stoking fear, while just one article appeared about Don Lemon.
MSNBC (Left bias) featured three articles about Tucker Carlson and none about Don Lemon, other than at the bottom of the “Latest from NBC” section, at the time of the AllSides homepage analysis.
Though the homepage placement of the Don Lemon story seemed primarily to fall along ideological lines, it didn’t always. The New Republic (Left) displayed the story about Don Lemon slightly higher than the story about Tucker Carlson, and the Independent Journal Review (Lean Right) put the Don Lemon story in the “Recent” section, below its featured front page stories.
If you only read the New York Post or the MSNBC, you would have two very different pictures of the two major news anchors removed from their positions on April 24th. This highlights the immense importance for getting coverage across the political spectrum. AllSides Balanced News is where you can expect full-spectrum coverage of the current events you care most about.
The piece was reviewed by Johnathon Held, Research and Content Intern (Lean Right), Julie Mastrine, Director of Marketing and Media Bias Ratings (Lean Right), and Andrew Weinzierl, Bias Research Manager and Data Journalist (Lean Left).