Don Lemon returned to CNN This Morning, nearly one week after sexist comments he made discussing Nikki Haley sparked backlash. On Wednesday, the embattled anchor sat next to co-host Poppy Harlow and opted not to mention the controversy. However, Lemon tweeted another apology 25 minutes before taking the air.
"I've heard you, I'm learning from you, and I'm committed to doing better," he wrote.
I appreciate the opportunity to be back on @CNNThisMorning 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.
— Don Lemon (@donlemon) February 22, 2023
Lemon found himself in hot water last Thursday while discussing Haley, declaring that at age 51, the Republican presidential candidate is not "in her prime." ("A woman is considered to be in their prime in her 20s and 30s and maybe 40s," he added.) Hours after the moment went viral, Lemon apologized publicly for the "inartful and irrelevant" reference.
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.
— Don Lemon (@donlemon) February 16, 2023
On Friday, Lemon was off the air as his absence was pre-planned ahead of Presidents' Day weekend. However, he called into the daily editorial call and offered a lengthier apology to his colleagues as CNN CEO Chris Licht condemned the journalist's remarks. He was absent on Monday and sidelined Tuesday.
Licht sent a memo to staff earlier this week addressing Lemon's absence and announcing his return date.
"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," Licht said in the note obtained by Yahoo Entertainment. "It is important to me that CNN balances accountability with fostering a culture in which people can own, learn and grow from their mistakes."
A source told Yahoo that despite a report suggesting otherwise, "there is no indication" Lemon will be ousted over the scandal. However, the network insider conceded this incident is just the latest sparking on set "tension" between Lemon and his colleagues in what's been a dramatic few months.
Viewership for CNN This Morning has dipped since it premiered in November, Variety reports, and some insiders believe Lemon's ageist and sexist comments about could be detrimental to advertisers or potential female guests on the program. Lemon's remarks are also offensive to a key part of the show's morning audience... women over 40.