CNN’s latest attempt at morning programming, CNN This Morning, was supposed to “showcase the network’s reporters around the world on big stories of the day.”
Unfortunately, one of its anchors, Don Lemon, ended up being the big story after a remark concerning when women should be considered in their prime.
During the Thursday morning edition of the show, Lemon, along with co-anchors Poppy Harlow and Kaitlyn Collins, addressed the remarks made by GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley, where she called for mandatory competency tests for politicians over the age of 75.
Lemon said that Haley was not in her prime and claimed that a woman is “considered to be in their prime in their 20s, 30s and maybe 40s.”
His comments received immediate pushback from Harlow and Collins, with Harlow saying, “Prime for what?”
This led to an intense and perhaps awkward exchange between the co-hosts, with Harlow asking Lemon to qualify his statement and Lemon defending himself, saying, “Don’t shoot the messenger. I am just saying what the facts are. Google it.”
Don Lemon: “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…”
Poppy Harlow: “Are you talking about prime for like child bearing?”
“Don’t shoot the messenger! I’m just saying what the facts are! Google it!” pic.twitter.com/n1HmtkWTpl
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) February 16, 2023
Clips showing Lemon’s comments spread like wildfire online, with many upset and disappointed by Lemon, including his fellow co-hosts and CNN staffers.
According to the New York Post, Lemon’s comments caused Harlow to walk off the set at one point.
The report also states that CNN’s CEO and chairman, Chris Licht, spoke with Lemon about the incident and addressed CNN staffers.
For his part, Lemon later issued a statement on Twitter apologizing for his remarks, saying, “The reference I made to a woman’s ‘prime’ this morning was inartful and irrelevant, as colleagues and loved ones have pointed out, and I regret it. A woman’s age doesn’t define her either personally or professionally. I have countless women in my life who prove that every day.”
The reference I made to a woman’s “prime” this morning was inartful and irrelevant, as colleagues and loved ones have pointed out, and I regret it. A woman’s age doesn’t define her either personally or professionally. I have countless women in my life who prove that every day.
— Don Lemon (@donlemon) February 16, 2023
Lemon was absent on Friday’s edition of CNN This Morning, but his time off was pre-planned and not due to his comments.
“Don has the day off.” In case anyone’s wondering, @DonLemon really was scheduled to be off the air today — he even talked about it on the show yesterday pic.twitter.com/24SdL7ZKAn
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 17, 2023
According to The Daily Beast, Lemon made an appearance during CNN’s morning editorial call on Friday, where he apologized once again for his remarks.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. I did not mean to offend anyone,” Lemon said.
He added, “What I said came out wrong, and I wish I hadn’t said it. I believe women of any age can do anything they set their minds to. The people I am closest to in this organization are women.”
Lemon received a further admonishment from Licht, who was also on the call and said that Lemon’s remarks were “upsetting, unacceptable and unfair to his co-hosts and ultimately a huge distraction to the great work of this organization.”
It’s been a not-so-smooth debut for CNN This Morning since its Nov. 1 launch. The ratings for the morning show have not moved the needle much. Its original ep, Eric Hall, is to be replaced by Chris Russel, and the show is now dealing with a second issue involving its co-hosts—Don Lemon, in particular.
On Dec. 8, Lemon reportedly lashed out at Collins in front of staffers, accusing her of interrupting him during the broadcast. Licht got wind of the incident and advised Lemon to take the next day off to “cool off.”