CNN anchors Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins stormed off the set of ‘CNN This Morning’ following a tense exchange with Don Lemon after he said GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley was ‘not in her prime.’
The veteran CNN anchor caused noticeable tension on his new set Thursday when he bashed the 51-year-old’s recent proposal that politicians aged 75 and up should face competency tests – and sources revealed Thursday the comments were the final straw for his fed-up co-workers.
Lemon, who joined the morning show in December after months of hosting primetime, bizarrely suggested the ex-South Carolina Governor wasn’t in her ‘prime’ and should be careful when using that word to judge other politicians.
The comments made by Lemon – who at 56 is five years Haley’s senior – were not only critical of elderly politicians, but women as well.
Spurring an apology from the veteran anchor just hours later as well as a response from Haley herself, the comments also caused Harlow, 40, to take a ‘well-timed’ bathroom break followed closely by Collins, before coming back to finish the show.
Poppy Harlow (left) and Kaitlan Collins (right) both went for a ‘well-timed’ bathroom break after Don Lemon made a ‘sexist’ comment about women in their prime on CNN, a source claims
Sources divulged the detail to the New York Post Thursday afternoon, not long after Lemon turned heads with the remarks – the latest in a series of awkward moments that have reportedly prompted concerns over the morning team’s chemistry.
The insiders said the comments were the last straw in an already deteriorating relationship between the news professionals, with Collins and Harlow increasingly fed up with Lemon’s behavior since coming on board.
But even with that dynamic, CNN honcho Chris Licht seems to have no qualms about keeping the three on-air, an insider told on Thursday, as the full fallout of the anchor’s tirade remains to be seen.
‘Licht isn’t doing anything about it,’ the source told the paper, adding that the trio’s relationship had already ‘been smoldering for months’ amid a series of eye-brow raising incidents involving the longtime anchor.
Another person familiar with the matter offered valuable insight to how Licht, who has struggled to right the sinking CNN ship since being brought on last February, might react to the highly publicized ordeal.
Paraphrasing the former Late Show showrunner’s words, the source revealed Licht’s response to staffers who asked him about Lemon’s comments during an informal meeting Thursday at CNN’s NYC HQ dubbed ‘Coffee with Chris.’
Questioned about the controversy and the consequences it might have, Licht reportedly told staffers: ‘People say stupid things. And that if it’s a trend then there’s recourse.’
Other topics discussed at the afternoon event reportedly included questions about the ratings-challenged network, which Licht has been tasked with rescuing following the network’s high profile merger with Discovery, creating a media giant that also includes HBO and Warner Bros.
Licht has said his one directive as CNN’s president is to ensure that it ‘remains the global leader in news’ as it adjusts to the merger – emphasizing the word ‘news’ in capital letters.
The comments made by Lemon ended up not only being critical of elderly politicians, but women as well, and reportedly offended Harlow and Collins to no end. Sources said the two have become fed-up with Lemon’s antics since he was brought on board in December
The incident on Thursday, however, seemingly threatens the CEO’s mission for a more no-nonsense, non partisan news station, moving away from opinionated reporting and personalities that became prevalent during Trump’s administration.
Upon assuming the CEO spot toward the start of last year, Licht warned staffers that changes were coming to the network that they may ‘not understand’ or ‘like’ – and similarly strived to steer hosts like Lemon and Jim Acosta away from slanted newscasting that made them famous.
So far, those efforts have failed to garner better ratings – despite various experiments and schedule shuffles that included a December decision to move Lemon from his longtime primetime post to a ‘reimagined’ morning show along Harlow and Collins.
Now, barely three months later, it appears that that experiment has also failed, with sources revealing that the morning show hosts are unhappy with the new addition.
The incident is just the latest eyebrow-raising comment from Lemon.
Dsepite their deteriorating dynamic, CNN honcho Chris Licht seems to have no qualms about keeping the three on-air, an insider said, as the full fallout of Lemon’s tirade remains to be seen
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.
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.
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.
Licht 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.
The incident is just the latest eyebrow-raising comment from Lemon, who was brought on to the morning show in December in one of Licht’s latest experiments to right the CNN’s ratings ship
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.
Regarding the most recent incident, Lemon has since walked back his comments, issuing a formal apology on Twitter after offending thousands of viewers
Regarding the most recent incident, Lemon has since walked back his comments, issuing a formal apology on Twitter after offending thousands of viewers.
‘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.’
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