Prominent CNN Host Out 'On Assignment' After Tensions Rise With Co-Host

CNN's Don Lemon did not appear on "CNN This Morning" on Friday, amidst reports of a recent altercation with co-host Kaitlan Collins, however, the network denies that it has any connection to any internal conflict.

"Don is on assignment in LA," Kaitlan Collins announced at the beginning of the show, putting an end to expectations of any potential awkwardness on the set. The previous day, reports had surfaced of a "nasty" interaction between Lemon and Collins in December while on "CNN This Morning."

On Dec. 8, while CNN was covering the breaking news of Brittney Griner's release from Russia, there were several instances where Collins tried to interrupt Lemon while he was speaking on air. At one point, Lemon gestured with his finger above the desk and instructed Collins to "stand by one second."

However, during an off-air moment, 56-year-old Lemon scolded 30-year-old Collins for "interrupting" him, resulting in a "nasty" exchange that left Collins visibly upset, according to a source who witnessed the incident and spoke to Fox News Digital.

The incident was reported to CNN's boss, Chris Licht, who advised Lemon to "take a break," according to the source.

Lemon was absent from the Dec. 9 broadcast, with co-host Poppy Harlow informing the audience that "Don has the day off."

CNN maintains that Lemon's absence was pre-arranged and not related to any disciplinary measures. A CNN representative informed Fox News Digital that Lemon is in LA working on "Grammys-related tasks" and that the assignment was planned prior to the reports of his argument with Collins.

The incident was first reported by The New York Post, which a CNN spokesperson described to Fox News Digital as "wildly exaggerated."

A CNN spokesperson stated that "Don, Kaitlan, and Poppy were friends before they became co-anchors, and they continue to be friends today." The spokesperson added that the reported incident was "wildly overblown."

The New York Post's report implied that there were persistent issues between Lemon and Collins. Lemon was moved to the morning shift after facing difficulties in the primetime slot during a network restructuring last year. Earlier in the week, Lemon shared a photo on social media of himself, Licht, Harlow, and Collins together at a New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden, suggesting that there was no animosity between them.

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