NEW YORK – CNN anchor Don Lemon returned to the air Wednesday, Feb. 22 after being absent several days following remarks he made describing Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley as “not in her prime.”
Lemon made the remarks Feb. 16 during a “CNN This Morning” conversation with fellow hosts Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins, who were discussing Haley’s suggestion that politicians over 75 should be subject to mandatory mental competency tests.
“Nikki Haley isn’t in her prime, sorry,” Lemon said, explaining why he was “uncomfortable” with the age discussion, the Associated Press reported. “When a woman is considered to be in her prime — in her 20s, 30s and maybe her 40s.”
“Prime for what?” Harlow replied.
Lemon said that if you look it up on Google, a woman is in her prime at those ages. Harlow tried to clarify what Lemon was referencing: “I think we need to qualify. Are you talking about prime for childbearing or are you talking about prime for being president?”
“Don’t shoot the messenger, I’m just saying what the facts are,” Lemon replied. “Google it.”
Lemon later apologized for his remarks on Twitter.
In a memo to employees Monday, CNN’s chief executive, Chris Licht, said he met with Lemon and that the anchor would return to the air but also will receive unspecified formal training regarding his comments.
“He has agreed to participate in formal training, as well as continuing to listen and learn. We take this situation very seriously,” Licht wrote in the memo, which was obtained by the Associated Press. “It is important to me that CNN balances accountability with … fostering a culture in which people can own, learn and grow from their mistakes.”
The same day he made his remarks, Lemon issued a statement saying that he regretted his “inartful and irrelevant” comments.”
On Wednesday, Lemon again apologized via Twitter, without mentioning the specific remarks or Haley’s name. Haley herself called the comments sexist and used the episode to fundraise.
“To my network, my colleagues and our incredible audience — I’m sorry,” Lemon tweeted. “I’ve heard you, I’m learning from you, and I’m committed to doing better.”
On the air, Lemon stuck to the news of the day, such as stories like President Joe Biden’s trip to Ukraine, the Ohio train derailment and winter weather.