‘Inartful and Irrelevant’ Don Lemon Ordered To Undergo Sensitivity Training, Misses Third Show
CNN host Don Lemon will be made to undergo formal sensitivity training following comments made last week that were widely condemned as sexist. CNN’s chief executive Chris Licht made the announcement in a memo Monday night. Lemon has been missing from his show since Friday.
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“I sat down with Don and had a frank and meaningful conversation,” Licht wrote in an internal memo viewed by the Wall Street Journal. “He has agreed to participate in formal training, as well as continuing to listen and learn. We take this situation very seriously.”
Licht continued, “It is important to me that CNN balances accountability with a fostering a culture in which people can own, learn and grow from their mistakes.” The chief executive added that Lemon would return to his show on Wednesday.
Lemon landed himself in hot water during a Thursday episode of “CNN This Morning” when he tried to argue that republican 2024 presidential candidate Nikki Haley “isn’t in her prime.”
Haley, who is 51 years old, had taken a jab at Donald Trump and Joe Biden for their ages and suggested that all political candidates over the age of 75 should be made to take mental competency tests.
During a segment about Haley, Lemon retorted,
“This talk about age makes me uncomfortable. Nikki Haley is not in her prime, sorry. When a woman is considered to be in her prime, is her 20s and 30s and maybe 40s.”
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Lemon’s co-hosts, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins, pushed back, but Lemon doubled down.
“Don’t shoot the messenger, I’m just saying what the facts are. Google it… it says 20s, 30s and 40s.
I’m just saying she 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.”
Haley fired back just hours later, “Liberals can’t stand the idea of having competency tests for older politicians to make sure they can do the job. BTW it’s always the liberals who are the most sexist.”
Liberals can't stand the idea of having competency tests for older politicians to make sure they can do the job.
BTW it's always the liberals who are the most sexist. pic.twitter.com/PzpniQFLff
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) February 16, 2023
“To be clear,” Haley continued in a later Tweet. “I am NOT calling for competency tests for Sexist middle-aged CNN anchors; only for people who make our laws and are 75+.”
Lemon later issued a half-hearted apology, calling his words “inartful and irrelevant.”
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
The apology was not enough, however, as viewers noted that Lemon was absent from his morning show the following day and again on Monday. The Daily Beast reported on Monday that according to unnamed CNN “insiders,” the future of the controversial morning show host was being discussed by executives. Licht issued his memo that evening after previously calling Lemon’s comments “unacceptable.”
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Lemon was previously booted from his primetime slot on CNN last November and was relocated to “CNN This Morning.” The show has been a bust for CNN, taking home the lowest ratings out of any program in CNN’s current lineup, according to Nielsen data.
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