While the longtime host was undergoing "formal training," rather than shrink in popularity, the show actually experienced a jump in ratings.
According to Samba TV, CNN This Morning reached 617,000 households on the first day of Lemon's absence, jumping to 678,000 the following episode. The next day, viewership rose even higher to 709,000 households.
"Following the backlash from his remarks on presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s age," Samba TV senior vice president Dallas Lawrence said to the New York Post, "Lemon’s two-day absence from the studio actually appears to have boosted the network’s average ratings."
Lawrence tallied the numbers and revealed that "average viewership the two days following his comments was up 5 percent compared to the average daily viewership the week before."
Lemon's comments prompted calls for the network to terminate his contract, with some female staffers threatening to quit if he wasn't fired. He returned to the airwaves on Wednesday, however, and no walkouts reportedly took place.
Before joining his co-hosts that morning, Lemon apologized once again via Twitter for his comments.
"I appreciate the opportunity to be back," he said. "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."
Many called Lemon out over his apology, suggesting he should instead be saying sorry to Nikki Haley herself.
During last Thursday's episode, in response to comments Haley made about requiring older politicians to prove their mental acuity, Lemon suggested that she wasn't "in her prime" any more.
"Nikki Haley isn't in her prime, sorry," Lemon said. "When a woman is considered to be in her prime in her 20s, and 30s, and maybe 40s."
"Prime for what?" cohost Poppy Harlow replied.
"It depends," he continued. "If you Google 'when is a woman in her prime,' it will say 20s, 30s, and 40s. I don't– I'm not saying I agree with that, so I think she has to be careful about saying that politicians aren't in their prime and need to be."
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