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CNN’s upper management has pulled morning show co-host Don Lemon from headlining a major network gig after he made what many considered to be sexist remarks about GOP presidential contender Nikki Haley earlier this month.
Lemon was originally planned to serve as moderator for an “Agents of Change” event in New York last week to commemorate Black History Month, but his previous offensive comments towards Haley and women, in general, tainted his public image and resulted in his removal as moderator from the event, according to TMZ.
“We’re told Don was worried about his current news coverage overtaking the event, and our sources tell us event coordinators at Douglas Elliman agreed … so he bowed out,” the outlet reported, adding he was replaced by real estate broker John Gomes.
Lemon survived calls to have him fired after he made his remarks last week. Network officials say he will return to the airwaves to join fellow co-hosts Poppy Harlow and Kaitlin Collins after he undergoes “formal training” for sexism, 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 criticized Haley for endorsing “mandatory mental competency tests” for politicians who are 75 years or older, 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.”
The report said that Harlow left the set “furious” for a bathroom break and was followed by Collins.
“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 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+.”
The incident with Haley followed 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.
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.
The New York 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.’”