UPDATE: Don Lemon returned to work Wednesday, following a near-miss encounter with the cancellation gods early this week, following his comments about Republic presidential candidate Nikki Haley, which were widely viewed as sexist, last Thursday. Lemon is going to receive “formal training” to learn from his mistakes, according to CNN network CEO Chris Licht in an email to employees on Monday.
According to Yahoo! Entertainment, three people with sources at CNN told the outlet in the afternoon on Sunday, February 19 that Sag Harbor resident Don Lemon, who had been expected to return to CNN This Morning on Monday, February 20 following a previously scheduled day off on Friday, February 17, would not appear that day.
His absence follows the morning show host’s heavily criticized comments after presidential candidate Nikki Haley, 51, remarked that anyone running for presidency over 75 should have to prove their mental competence.
The former Governor of South Carolina, Haley is running for the presidency against President Joe Biden, 80, and former President Donald Trump, 76.
On Thursday, February 16, Lemon, 56, said on air, “Nikki Haley isn’t in her prime, sorry. A woman is said to be in her prime in her 20s, 30s and maybe 40s.”
This escalated not only into Lemon’s cohost Poppy Harlow, asking Lemon, “Are you talking about prime for child-bearing or are you talking about prime for being president?” which was followed by a storm of complaints about Lemon’s comments all over social media.
Haley herself responded with her own clarification, “To be clear, I am NOT calling for sexist middle-aged CNN anchors, only for people who make our laws and are 75+.”
After posting an apology on social media, an insider told OK! that Lemon participated in a call on Friday with fellow CNN staffers to apologize for his comments. Said the source, “Don jumped on for only 90 seconds to address what he said about Nikki Haley and, for that matter, all women.”
According to the Daily Beast, while on the call, Lemon was remorseful, telling his colleagues, “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.”
However, The New York Times reports the same day, CNN’s chairman, Chris Licht, started his daily 9 a.m. editorial call by saying Lemon’s remarks were disappointing.
According to a recording of the call obtained by The New York Times, Licht told the staff, “His remarks were upsetting, unacceptable and unfair to his co-hosts and ultimately a huge distraction to the great work of the organization.”
A source for Variety who is familiar with the CNN network says Lemon requested to have Monday off, following the controversy between Thursday and Sunday.
Anchor Sara Sidner filled in for Lemon on Monday’s broadcast.
The Daily Beast reported that CNN is currently in talks regarding Don Lemon’s future.