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CNN’s Morning Show Ratings Disaster Getting Makeover After Don Lemon Incidents

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


CNN is once again making moves to improve ratings for its tanking morning show co-starring Don Lemon, who — according to a series of reports — has been a problem for everyone involved.

According to the New York Post, on Monday, CNN enlisted the services of two experienced executive producers to manage “CNN This Morning” after the show has been struggling with ratings and has faced controversies for months.

The outlet noted: “Longtime CNN producer Lauren Mensch and Chris Russell, who recently was the executive producer for NewsNation’s ‘On Balance with Leland Vittert,’ will grab the reins from Eric Hall, according to the cable news network. The moves come amid a flurry of bad publicity for Lemon.”

Late last month, Lemon survived calls to have him fired after he made some sexist remarks about GOP presidential contender Nikki Haley and engaged in an off-camera rant against co-host Kaitlin Collins, according to reports.

CNN executives allowed him back on the air in the mornings with Collins and fellow co-host Poppy Harlow after he received “formal training” for sexism, The First TV reported.

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“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 reported at the time.

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.

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“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+.”

Actress Michelle Yeoh, in her acceptance speech after the 60-year-old Malaysian star won the Oscar for Best Actress, also appeared to take a jab at Lemon during her acceptance speech on Sunday.

“This is proof that dreams, dream big, and dreams do come true. And ladies, don’t let anybody tell you you’re ever past your prime,” she said.

Reports earlier in February noted 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.

According to a separate report by 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.

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