Don Lemon Returned to CNN This Morning—Here's How He Addressed Sexist Comments
The co-host missed three episodes after saying Nikki Haley "isn't in her prime."
Don Lemon, one of three co-hosts on CNN This Morning, made waves last week when he said that GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley—who is 51 years old—"isn't in her prime." Lemon's co-hosts, Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow, were visibly puzzled during the Feb. 16 broadcast, and after the show, Lemon tweeted and called his comment "inartful and irrelevant." However, Lemon was noticeably absent for the following three episodes of CNN This Morning, and just made his return today, Feb. 22. Read on to find out how Lemon addressed his comments about Haley.
Lemon landed himself in the hot seat.
Lemon's comments followed a discussion about Haley and her stance on "mandatory mental competency tests" for politicians over age 75, per a clip of the episode shared by the New York Post.
"This whole talk about age makes me uncomfortable," Lemon said when Harlow prompted him for his opinion. "I think it's the wrong road to go down. She says people, you know, politicians or something, are not in their prime. 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. That's not according to me."
Harlow pushed back, asking Lemon to "wait" and clarify what he meant by "prime."
"It depends, it's just like prime," Lemon said. "If you Google, 'When is a woman in her prime,' it'll say 20s, 30s, and 40s … I'm not saying I agree with that. So, I think she has to be careful about saying that politicians are not in their prime and they need to be."
Harlow then called for a qualifier, asking Lemon if he meant prime for having children or being the president. "Don't shoot the messenger," Lemon replied, throwing his hands up. "I'm just saying what the facts are. Google it."
Lemon said he's "committed to doing better."
Per the New York Post, Lemon was back on CNN This Morning today, but he didn't address his comments about Haley while on air. Ahead of the broadcast, he did post to his Twitter account.
"I appreciate the opportunity to be back on @CNNThisMorning today," Lemon wrote. "To my network, my colleagues and our incredible audience — I'm sorry. I've heard you, I'm learning from you, and I'm committed to doing better. See you soon."
The tweet was published at 5:35 a.m., 25 minutes before the show went live at 6 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.
Again, Twitter was buzzing with mixed reactions. "Why are you listing your network and colleagues before your viewers? WE are the ones to which you owe the apology," one viewer tweeted.
On the flip side, many others were happy to see Lemon again. "Glad your back @donlemon. The show or the network is not the same without you. You are the only reason I watch and I am a 40 year old feminist," one Twitter user wrote.
Another added, "Welcome back. I don't often agree with you but appreciate your perspective. Kindly remember your experience when others you might differ with misstep."
Lemon is undergoing training, CNN officials confirmed.
When Lemon first tweeted about his on-air comments, he admitted to regretting them and noted that "a woman's age doesn't define her either personally or professionally." But some said his statement wasn't necessarily an apology and didn't address Haley directly.
"Perhaps try Googling "How to apologize?" journalist and author Karma Brown tweeted on Feb. 18.
In light of the situation, Lemon will have to undergo "formal training," per a memo to CNN employees from CEO Chris Licht obtained by the Associated Press. "I sat down with Don and had a frank and meaningful conversation," Licht wrote. "He has agreed to participate in formal training, as well as continuing to listen and learn. We take this situation very seriously."
Lemon made headlines just last month.
This isn't the first time Lemon has been mired in controversy. Last month, it was reported that he "screamed" at Collins in Dec. 2022.
Following the broadcast, Lemon allegedly accused Collins of interrupting him. "Don screamed at Kaitlan, who was visibly upset and ran out of the studio," a source told the New York Post. When his outburst was reported by the media in January, Lemon "lost his mind" and "went ballistic at staffers," an insider told RadarOnline.com.
However, CNN previously told Best Life that the reports of conflict were "overblown."
"The Post's account is wildly overblown and two months old," a CNN spokesperson said. "Don, Kaitlan and Poppy were friends before they were co-anchors and they remain friends today."