Don Lemon on 'day off' from CNN morning after blasting Nikki Hayley over her age

"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," Lemon wrote on Twitter.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

On Friday morning, CNN This Morning host Don Lemon was notably absent, following his Thursday comments stating that women are in their prime "in their 20s and 30s and maybe 40s."

Host Kaitlan Collins said during the Friday morning broadcast that Lemon "has the day off," while Poppy Harlow, who reportedly stormed off set following Lemon’s Thursday comments, was in Salt Lake City for the NBA All-Star Game.

According to Fox News, Lemon’s absence from the Friday show was reportedly planned in advance of his comments, being set to take an extended weekend vacation.

At the end of Thursday’s show, Lemon told viewers "have a great weekend." He is currently expected to return to the show on Monday.

Speaking on Thursday in regards to 2024 presidential candidate Nikki Haley stating that politicians over the age of 75 should undergo annual mental competency tests, Lemon stated that Haley "isn’t in her prime, sorry."

"A woman is considered to be in their prime in 20s and 30s and maybe 40s," he said, 

Harlow, 40, questioned, "Prime for what?" 

Lemon told Harlow and viewers to "Google it" and not to "shoot the messenger." 

"I’m just saying what the facts are. Google it. Everybody at home, when is a woman in her prime, it says 20s, 30s, and40s," he said. "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."

Lemon is reportedly expected to address his comments internally with CNN colleagues on Friday morning.

According to the New York Post, sources said that Harlow walked off the set after the comments, with one of the sources stating that Harlow took a "well time" bathroom break and was followed into the bathroom by Collins.

One CNN insider told the outlet that the comments may be the final straw for Lemon with CNN CEO Chris Licht, who took over last year.

"Chris isn’t happy and he has spoken to Don a couple times today," the network source said on Thursday. "Don knows it can’t happen again."

During an informal "Coffee with Chris" meeting on Thursday, 30 staffers raised questions with the CEO, with one asking about Lemon’s comments.

"People say stupid things and that if it’s a trend, then there’s recourse," the source with knowledge of the meeting said, paraphrasing Licht’s comments.

On Thursday afternoon, Lemon posted to Twitter about his comments, stating that it was "inartful and irrelevant."

"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," Lemon wrote on Twitter.

Lemon’s post reportedly came in response to feedback he received from female colleagues, with Licht supporting the idea of Lemon issuing a statement, a network insider told Fox News.

In response to Lemon’s statement, Twitter users doubled down on their disapproval, including Haley.

"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+," Haley wrote.

California state Senator Mellissa Melendez wrote, "It wasn’t 'inartful.’ It was a deliberate statement directed toward only those with whom you differ politically. In Don’s world I’m past my prime. Too bad for those who think like him, I and many others 'my age' are nowhere near being done."

"I believe he regrets saying it and he’s sorry he did it on national television. But I believe he meant what he said when he said it and he believes it’s true.

This guy treats his female cohosts like crap. CNN coddles him and ignores all his hostilities towards women," Attorney Marina Medvin wrote.

"Predictable. And worst apology ever. [Don Lemon] Try the words, 'I’m sorry…for being a left-wing misogynist,'" Sen. Ted Cruz wrote. 

Notably, Lemon was moved from his Primetime slot in September of last year, coming after months of low viewership.


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