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Don Lemon, the former prime-time host on CNN who was moved to a morning show co-hosting gig last fall, appears to have survived calls to have him fired after he made what many characterized as a “sexist” remark about GOP presidential contender Nikki Haley last week. Network officials say he will eventually return to the airwaves to join fellow co-hosts Poppy Harlow and Kaitlin Collins after he undergoes “formal training,” The First TV reported.
“I sat down with Don and had a frank and meaningful conversation. He has agreed to participate in formal training, as well as continue to listen and learn. We take this situation very seriously. It is important to me that CNN balances accountability with fostering a culture in which people can own, learn and grow from their mistakes. To that end, Don will return to CNN This Morning on Wednesday,” CNN CEO Chris Licht told staff on Tuesday, the streaming network said.
Lemon took Haley to task last week after she called for members of Congress 75 and older to be able to pass a cognitive exam before being eligible to serve, suggesting that Haley was no longer in her “prime.” Lemon referenced “Google” to support his contention that Haley, who is 51 years old, will face a difficult challenge in winning the presidency, as women are only considered to be in their prime during their “20s, 30s, and 40s.”
“I’m just saying what the facts are. Google it. Everybody at home, when is a woman in her prime, it says 20s, 30s, and 40s,” he said to morning ho co-hosts Poppy Harlow and Kaitlin Collins. “And I’m just saying Nikki Haley should be careful about saying that politicians are not in their prime, and they need to be in their prime when they serve. Because she wouldn’t be in her prime according to Google or whatever it is.”
Subsequent reports claimed that Harlow and Collins were so upset by the remarks they took “well-timed” bathroom breaks, leaving the set.
“Chris isn’t happy and he has spoken to Don a couple of times today,” a source told The Post. “Don knows it can’t happen again.”
Lemon took to Twitter later Thursday to tweet an apology: “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.”
Haley responded: “To be clear, I am NOT calling for competency tests for sexist middle-aged CNN anchors; only for people who make our laws and are 75+.”
This follows reports earlier this month that Lemon rattled Collins as well as the crew following an off-camera confrontation with her. Reports said he “screamed” at her for allegedly interrupting him on the air.
To that point, Outkick added: “It’s unclear if his training course” regarding sexism “will address his berating of co-host Kaitlan Collins earlier this year.” That appears to be a reference to reports earlier this month that Lemon rattled Collins as well as the crew following an off-camera confrontation with her.
According to a recent report from the New York Post, several sources said that Lemon “screamed” at Collins following an on-air incident on the set, with tensions continuing to rise as the show tanks and as Lemon, apparently, is unhappy sharing on-air duties with Collins and Harlow.
The Post noted: “According to two sources with knowledge of the situation, the 56-year-old Lemon approached 30-year-old Collins following the show’s Thursday, Dec. 8 broadcast — and unloaded on her in front of staffers as he accused her of interrupting him on air. News of the explosive incident made its way up to CNN CEO Chris Licht, who is said to have been appalled by Lemon’s behavior, according to a source. A second source said a producer talked to Lemon at the behest of Licht and told the anchor to take the next day off to ‘cool off.’”
“Don screamed at Kaitlan, who was visibly upset and ran out of the studio,” one source with knowledge of the incident told The Post.