CNN host Don Lemon clutched his back and complained about his age during his first day back on air after claiming Nikki Haley was too old to run for president. Lemon, 56, did not comment on the outrage over his ageist comments during This Morning Wednesday, although he’d posted a groveling apology on Twitter just before the broadcast began.
But later in the show, he started to squat and jump with co-host Poppy Harlow, before grabbing his back when she asked, ‘are you getting too old for that?’ and he replied with raised eyebrows: ‘Yes I am.’ They had been discussing having a four-day work week, when Lemon, who is believed to earn a multi-million dollar annual salary, said that he ‘likes working’ and ‘going into the office’ – after his return from a three-day hiatus.
Wednesday’s show saw co-host Kaitlan Collins broadcasting from Poland, while covering President Biden’s trip to Europe. She and Lemon are said to have repeatedly clashed since they began hosting the scandal-plagued show last fall. Lemon has reportedly been forced to have ‘formal training’ after his comments about GOP 2024 hopeful Nikki Haley, who is 51, being ‘past her prime.’
Lemon tweeted just before going on air: ‘I appreciate the opportunity to be back on CNN This Morning today. ‘To my network, my colleagues and our incredible audience — I’m sorry. I’ve heard you, I’m learning from you, and I’m committed to doing better. See you soon.’ Insiders claim that Lemon is aware that he is on his ‘final warning’ after a series of insulting blunders on the early-morning show . After some initial awkwardness waiting for Harlow to open the show, Lemon settled back into his role and was laughing and joking.
CNN’s Chairman Chris Licht (pictured), who has slammed Lemon’s remarks, sent a memo to staffers Monday saying that Lemon has agreed to participate in training. According to a memo sent to staffers on Monday, Licht said: ‘I sat down with Don and had a frank and meaningful conversation. He has agreed to participate in formal training, as well as continuing to listen and learn. We take this situation very seriously. 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.’ Licht previously said that the remarks were ‘upsetting, unacceptable and unfair to his co-hosts, and ultimately a huge distraction to the great work of this organization’ during an editorial call on Friday.
Lemon came under fire when he made ‘sexist’ comments on Thursday’s show when discussing Haley’s suggestion that politicians 75 and older should face mental competency tests. During the editorial call on Friday Lemon said: ‘I’m sorry I don’t mean to hurt anyone. I did not mean to offend anyone. 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. When I made a mistake. I own it and I own this one as well. I understand why you are upset and disappointed. I was trying to make the point that no one’s age should define their ambition or potential for success and I was saying those comments to Nikki Haley. I’m going to continue to be who I am.’
The host took an unscheduled day off on Monday, after jetting off to Miami with his fiancé on a planned trip – which conveniently coincided with the backlash. He also lost out on an interview with disgraced Congressman George Santos to TalkTV’s Piers Morgan following his comments. Several insiders say that there has been an increase in calling for Lemon to be removed from the show because of his behavior. Lemon has been keeping a low profile after his Miami holiday, and even stepped back from hosting an event in New York yesterday about ‘race and real estate’ in honor of Black History Month amid the controversy.
It comes after Nikki Haley (pictured), who is four years younger than Lemon, has hit out again at the comments saying she is past her prime. She told Fox News yesterday to ‘hold my beer’ and watch what she can do next while discussing the comments. When asked about the incident with Lemon, and The View Host Whoopi Goldberg also weighting in, she said: ‘It’s not a surprise. I’ve done this for a long time, you read the poll numbers of how I deal with independents and suburban women and all those. They know that I’m the biggest threat that liberals have ever seen, and they’re scared about it.’
Lemon apologized for his comments on Thursday’s show, and tweeted: ‘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.’
Poppy Harlow (pictured center) reportedly stormed off the set after Lemon’s comments last week. Just weeks prior, he allegedly threw a screaming fit after a broadcast because he was angry Kaitlan Collins (pictured right) had interrupted him on-air. Harlow took a ‘well timed’ bathroom break and was followed into the bathroom by Kaitlan Collins – with the source adding the tense relationship has been ‘smoldering for months.’
Collins had her own run-in with her fellow host, who was seen on camera repeatedly interrupting her throughout the show on December 8. Lemon allegedly made Collins run from the set in tears on after he berated her in front of the television crew and their other co-host. After that, he was reportedly told to take a day to ‘cool off’ by boss Chris Licht but instead blew up on staffers after a company newsletter featured a story about his altercation with the White House Correspondent. Lemon went ‘ballistic’ at staffers who highlighted the spat with Collins, according to RadarOnline – with the host claiming she ‘interrupted him’ during a December broadcast. Since the incident in December, Lemon has been sent to Memphis and on other assignments, while Collins worked remotely from Washington DC on several occasions in January.
Megyn Kelly (pictured) has slammed CNN CEO Licht for refusing to fire Lemon over the comments. Kelly viewed Licht’s response as a mere slap on the wrist and questioned when Lemon would be added to the list of fired CNN staffers for offending ‘half the country.’ She said: ‘It shouldn’t have to be that you were [sexually assaulted] by a man, or 21 women come forward alleging that they’ve been sexually harassed by a man, or they’ve been inappropriately touched by a man, for their offense to matter. We’ve seen person after person get fired because they caused offense, mere offense, when it comes to race, when it comes to sexual orientation, when it comes to gender identity. Does women’s offense matter?… Because this guy [Don Lemon] managed to [outrage] half the country. It’s not left or right. This is about decency.’
Lemon’s December blow-up isn’t the first wrong move he’s made while adjusting to sharing the limelight with his new colleagues. A week prior he was shot down by Collins and Harlow after they accused him of mansplaining why the US men’s soccer team should get paid more – despite their lack of success. He insisted that he was joking when he said that men were ‘more interesting to watch’- with the interaction making for awkward viewing. CNN This Morning has suffered a ratings bomb and early last month experienced its least-viewed week since launch, averaging just over 330,000 viewers.
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