"Don is on assignment in Los Angeles," Collins said during "CNN This Morning," just a day after it was reported that she and Lemon had a "nasty" exchange in December, prompting Collins to run out of the studio "visibly upset."
During their coverage of WNBA player Brittney Griner's release from Russian custody on December 8, Collins repeatedly attempted to chime in with more information, which reportedly set her co-host off, according to the New York Post. At one point during the episode, Lemon wagged his finger above the desk and told her "stand by one second."
"Don screamed at Kaitlan, who was visibly upset and ran out of the studio," a source told the publication.
A second source claimed that a network producer told Lemon to take the next day off to "cool off," at the behest of CNN CEO Chris Licht, who was said to have been stunned by Lemon’s behavior.
Lemon was absent from the Dec. 9 broadcast, with third co-host Poppy Harlow saying "Don has the day off."
The night after the exchange, Lemon, Collins, and Harlow were supposed to get drinks and go to the White House press Christmas party together, but a source told the Post that the pre-game was called off and they arrived separately. The outlet reported that Collins and Lemon "have been on set together less frequently since the purported dustup."
As Lemon missed the episode immediately following the original New York Post report of his alleged spat with Collins, CNN has insisted that his absence was planned.
In a statement to Fox News, a CNN spokesperson said the host is busy with "Grammys stuff" in Los Angeles, where the awards ceremony is set to be held on Sunday.
"Don, Kaitlan and Poppy were friends before they were co-anchors, and they remain friends today," the spokesperson added.
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