CNN’s Don Lemon apologizes for his ‘inartful comments’ after saying Nikki Haley is past her ‘prime’

CNN’s Don Lemon has apologized for saying presidential candidate Nikki Haley shouldn’t promote competency tests for elderly politicians because she was ‘past her prime’ as a woman.


Is Don Lemon past his prime?

  • Yes 1549 votes
  • No 80 votes

Lemon made his comments on Thursday’s episode of CNN This Morning as he and co-hosts Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow discussed Nikki Haley’s proposal that politicians ages 75 and up should face mental competency tests. Haley made the proposal during a speech on Wednesday announcing her run for president. 

Lemon, who at 56 is five years older than Haley, 51, said the politician should tread lightly on the topic because ‘a woman is in their prime in 20s and 30s and maybe 40s.’

He was accused of being sexist, and has since responded to the backlash with a tweet saying ‘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,’ he added.

Haley herself responded to Lemon’s comments, saying ‘It’s always the liberals who are the most sexist’ in a tweet with a clip of the video segment.

The incident is just the latest eyebrow-raising comment from Lemon. Weeks ago he asked a female co-host who stumbled over her words whether she had ‘mommy brain,’ and recently has been seen on camera repeatedly interrupting Collins.

Presidential candidate Nikki Haley herself responded to Lemon's comments, saying 'It's always the liberals who are the most sexist' in a tweet with a clip of the video segment.

Nikki Haley is 51 years old. Don Lemon suggested that she was past her prime as a woman

Nikki Haley is 51 years old. Don Lemon suggested that she was past her prime as a woman

Lemon’s comments left CNN staffers upset about yet another questionable incident involving the beleaguered host, according to The Daily Beast.

‘There were grumbles of mansplaining,’ a source said, ‘And how much longer the women should have to be talked down to before there’s a change.’

Numerous staffers have also complained internally about Lemon’s show, the Daily Beast reported. 

During the morning show, Lemon kicked off his comments by saying discussing the merits of age in politics was ‘the wrong road to go down,’ then quickly went down that road. 

‘She says people, you know, politicians are suddenly not in their prime. Nikki Haley isn’t in her prime. Sorry, when a woman is in their prime in 20s and 30s and maybe 40s,’ he said.

Harlow cut Lemon off, asking ‘What are you talking about? Prime for what?’ before Lemon pressed on while insisting ‘That’s not according to me.’

‘It depends. It’s just like, prime. If you look it up. If you Google ‘What is a woman in her prime’ it’ll say 20s, 30s, 40s,’ he said. ‘I’m not saying I agree with that. So, I think she has to be careful about saying that, you know, politicians are in their prime.’

‘Are you talking about prime for, like, childbearing? Or are you talking about prime for being president?’ Harlow asked.

‘Don’t shoot the messenger, I’m just saying what the facts are,’ Lemon responded. ‘Google it. Everybody at home, when is a woman in her prime? It says 20s, 30s and 40s.’ 

‘I’m just saying Nikki Haley should be careful about saying that politics are not in their prime, and they need to be in their prime when they serve. She would not be in her prime according to Google or whatever it is.’

Throughout the interaction, Lemon directed all of his comments to Harlow, while Collins remained out of the fray.

Later during the show when CNN podcast host Audie Cornish joined and questioned Lemon’s point, he refused to back down.

‘The idea of prime that you Google on the internet, that’s about sexual and reproductive prime, that’s not actually about mental health and aging.’ Cornish said. ‘No one is going look at Nikki Haley and say, ‘is she in her prime or not?”

Lemon responded, ‘Eh, I don’t know.’

Viewers were quick to join Collins and Harlow in their outrage.   

‘More classic and egregious sexism from #DonLemon,’ wrote comedian and podcaster Pete Dominick on Twitter. ‘It was only a few weeks ago where he said @secupp had ‘mommy brain’ Today he said #nikkihaley was ‘past her prime’ as a woman. Poppi tries to dig him out of his ditch and NOPE! Bench that dude IMMEDIATELY.’

He then went on to list the ages of a number of prominent female politicians when they first ran for office, including Hillary Clinton at 61 years-old. 

‘Pelosi was first elected at 47, Elizabeth Warren was 70, Geraldine Ferraro 49, Kamala Harris 55, Stacey Abrams is 49.’

Fox News anchor David Asman chimed in too, noting Margaret Thatcher ‘began her historic 11-year run as PM in her 54th year.’

Journalist Janice Dean wrote ‘And @CNN wonders why they are hemorrhaging viewers. And @NikkiHaley wonders why they are hemorrhaging viewers.’

Another Twitter put it more succinctly: ‘Don Lemon is past his primetime.’

Lemon made his comments on Thursday's episode of CNN This Morning alongside co-hosts Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow

Lemon made his comments on today’s episode of CNN This Morning alongside co-hosts Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow

Don Lemon asked SE Cupp whether she lost her train of thought because of 'mommy brain'

SE Cupp appeared bewildered by Lemon's question

Don Lemon asked SE Cupp whether she lost her train of thought because of ‘mommy brain’

Back in December, Lemon allegedly ‘screamed’ at Collins after he accused her of interrupting him several times while on air.

Collins ran off the set in tears on December 8 after Lemon yelled at her in front of the television crew and their other co-host Poppy Harlow, sources told The New York Post.

CNN boss Chris Licht, who pledged to give CNN a makeover since taking over the outlet last year and then announced shocking layoffs, was supposedly stunned at the news and told Lemon to take the following day off to ‘cool off.’

‘Don screamed at Kaitlan, who was visibly upset and ran out of the studio,’ the source told The New York Post.

Then, after a particularly icy on-screen reunion following the reports that Lemon screamed at Collins, she was sent to Washington DC to cover President Biden’s State of the Union address.

Harlow was praising the youngest CNN White House Correspondent when Lemon awkwardly interrupted to talk about how fact-checking is an important issue.

Harlow pressed on to say ‘That’s why we have Kaitlan Collins on the Hill fact-checking in real time’, as Lemon continued ‘I just can’t believe that we’re here’ and forced producers to stop commercial break music to make his point.

Though CNN This morning has been on air for a mere three months, its disarray has left it a ratings disaster.

Lemon, 56, went 'ballistic' at staffers who highlighted the spat with Collins, according to RadarOnline ¿ with the host claiming she 'interrupted him' during a December broadcast

Lemon, 56, went ‘ballistic’ at staffers who highlighted the spat with Collins, according to RadarOnline – with the host claiming she ‘interrupted him’ during a December broadcast 

Back in September, Lemon was also accused of misogyny after asking a Republican panelist SE Cupp, 43, whether she was suffering from ‘mommy brain’ after losing her train of thought.

During the show, Cupp was discussing the future of the Republican party when she began stumbling over her words and forgot where she was going.

‘The ideas are not popular among Republicans,’ Cupp said, discussing firebrand MAGA beliefs, ‘Thirteen percent of Republicans want a total ban on abortion. Seventy percent of Republicans want… sorry’ she said, forgetting where she was going and trailing off.

Lemon jumped in and attempted to complete her thought, then commented on Cupp’s lapse.

‘Did you lose your train of thought? I do it all the time,’ Lemon said.

Cupp responded ‘I did,’ then went on to finish her idea.

‘A majority of Republicans oppose book bans,’ she continued. ‘A majority of Republicans think that talking about race and learning about racism in school is a good thing. Majorities of Republicans are not where today’s MAGA Republicans are going and all the things they keep talking about, which begs the question: what the hell are they thinking?’

Rather than responding to the idea, Lemon continued to harp on Cupp.

‘Is it fair to say this, because I’m not a mommy, but is it mommy brain?’ he asked. 

Cupp appeared bewildered by the question as a silence hung over the panel for a moment. 

‘No,’ she finally said, drawing the word out, ‘I just forgot what I was going to say.’ 

The Best of the Worst of Don Lemon

Was Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 swallowed by a black hole? – During coverage of the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 in 2014, Don Lemon asked a panel of experts whether it was possible the Boeing jet might have been swallowed up by a black hole:

‘People are saying to me, why aren’t you talking about the possibility – and I’m just putting it out there – that something odd happened to this plane, something beyond our understanding?’ he asked.  

‘What if it was something fully that we don’t really understand? A lot of people have been asking about that, about black holes and on, and on, and on, and all of these conspiracy theories,’ he continued, adding comparisons to the Bermuda Triangle and the television show Lost.   

US Department of Transportation inspector general Mary Schiavo said the theories were unlikely:

‘Well, it is. A small black hole would suck in our entire universe so we know it’s not that. The Bermuda Triangle is often weather. And Lost is a TV show,’ she said.


Why didn’t you just bite his penis? –  While interviewing Bill Cosby sexual assault accuser Joan Tarshis, Lemon asked her why she didn’t stop him from raping her by biting his penis:

‘You know, there are ways not to perform oral sex if you don’t want to do it,’ he said.

‘I was kind of stoned at the time, and quite honestly, I that didn’t even enter my mind. Now I wish it would have,’ Tashis said.

‘Right. Meaning the using of teeth, right?’ Lemon asked, ‘As a weapon.’

‘Ouch,’ Tashis said, ‘No, it didn’t cross my mind.’


Pull your pants up, black people – In 2013 while talking about Bill O’Reilly’s controversial comments that unmarried black women need to stop having children and inner city schools need to enforce discipline, Lemon argued the Fox News host’s plans to elevate black people wasn’t as bold as it should be.

‘In my estimation, he doesn’t go far enough,’ said Lemon, ‘Walking around with your a** and your underwear showing is not okay. In fact, it comes from prison. When they take away belts from prisoners so they can’t make a weapon. And then it evolved into which role each prisoner would have during male-on-male prison sex.’

Lemon went on to explain black people should stop using the N-word, and refrain from littering.