Elon Musk v. Don Lemon: The billionaire explains why he decided to cancel his agreement with the former CNN star

Musk claims that Don Lemon lacked authenticity and his approach was not what he expected.

Things between journalist Don Lemon and Elon Musk did not end as well as they seemed. After an interview with the two, which was going to serve as the debut of Lemon's show on X, Musk decided that his platform would no longer have any commercial agreement with the journalist.

In January of this year, Elon Musk announced that Don Lemon, the former CNN star, would join X as an exclusive content creator, similar to the agreement with conservative journalist Tucker Carlson. The show would be called The Don Lemon Show and was scheduled to debut next week.

However, after Lemon interviewed Musk in what was going to be the first episode of the show, the billionaire rescinded his agreement. 

Don Lemon, known as one of CNN's most left-wing and agitating journalists, was fired after criticizing Nikki Haley in April of last year. He claims that Musk decided to cancel the program because he was not satisfied with an interview that was, according to the journalist, "tense at times."

"We had a good conversation. Clearly, he felt differently. His commitment to a global town square where all questions can be asked and all ideas can be shared seems not to include questions of him from people like me," Lemon said.

Other sources told the Wall Street Journal that Lemon asked Musk about his alleged addiction to certain drugs such as ketamine, the elections and his company, Space X.

According to a source, Musk informed Lemon of the decision via a text message to his agent saying "The contract is canceled." On his X account, Lemon said, "Elon publicly encouraged me to join X with a new show saying I would have his 'full support.'"

"I made the decision to work with them in a unique partnership that I believed would ultimately assure that my work would be available to the most people, in the largest possible venue. I took Elon and his management team's word that they, for the first time, were interested in working directly with new and diverse voices," Lemon said in a statement on his X account.

Both Lemon and his team as well as another source assured that no editorial line was ever established before the interview and that "there were no restrictions."

Finally, Lemon announced that he would still post the interview on his social media accounts, scheduled for March 18.

In another post on X, Lemon told Musk: "I don't think you believe in freedom of speech."

X posted a statement ensuring that they are "a platform that champions free speech" and that Lemon could publish his content on X "without censorship."

"However, like any enterprise, we reserve the right to make decisions about our business partnerships and, after careful consideration, X decided not to enter into a commercial partnership with the show," X's business account said.

In another post, Elon Musk expanded on the explanation of why he had decided to cancel the deal after the interview: "His approach was basically 'CNN, but on social media,' which doesn't work, as evidenced by the fact that CNN is dying."

"And instead of it being the real Don Lemon, it was really just Jeff Zucker talking through Don, so (it) lacked authenticity," Musk said, referring to the former president of CNN.

Musk decided to cancel the agreement with Lemon because he claimed that after seeing it in action, it did not fit what he expected for his platform.

Regarding the accusations of being a hypocrite for talking about freedom of expression and suspending the agreement, the billionaire insisted that Don Lemon is free to post without any type of limitations on his platform.

"(Lemon) is welcome to monetize on this platform, just like everyone else. What we aren't going to do is guarantee minimum payments to him, as he was demanding, which would be going beyond everyone else!" Musk said on his X account.

"Unfortunately, all (Lemon) wants to do is rehash the dying CNN business model, 'but on social media,' which will do even worse here than it did on cable TV," he added.

Several sources told the Wall Street Journal that there was never a signed contract between the two parties. However, a spokesperson for Lemon said in a statement that there was an agreement that he hopes X will comply with, pay or "we will go to court."

Apart from the show with Don Lemon, which was scheduled to launch this week, Elon Musk negotiated with former Hawaii congresswoman, Tulsi Gabbard, who will launch her show in the coming weeks. Sports commentator Jim Rome will also be on the platform, who, along with the former congresswoman, joins Tucker Carlson as an exclusive content creator for X.