Don Lemon, the CNN anchor, will be temporarily benched from the network Monday after his controversial comments disparaging Nikki Haley, a 2024 GOP presidential candidate.
Amid mounting anger and calls for his ouster over the comments he made last week, which were widely criticized as sexist, Lemon was removed from Monday’s on-air lineup on “CNN This Morning.”
According to a CNN insider, Lemon has no plans to return to the airwaves earlier than Tuesday. The source added that his return to the show after “taking a holiday” depends on “where his head is at.”
Lemon’s absence from the Monday lineup was first reported by the Daily Beast, which also said that his future at the network remains uncertain. A source familiar with the ongoing matter told the publication, “There are ongoing conversations about Don’s future.” The insider said Lemon has become “a constant distraction” for the network.
The suspension of his on-air presence comes after Lemon issued a frantic apology to his colleagues on Friday for his comments about aging and women, where he disparaged Haley for being past her “prime.”
CNN CEO and Lemon’s boss, Chris Licht, scolded the host Friday for his comment, saying it is a “huge distraction” and “upsetting, unacceptable, and unfair.”
Lemon made his remark when pushing back at Nikki Haley’s call for all politicians over 75 years old to be subjected to annual mental competency tests. The host cited Google to argue 51-year-old Haley will face an uphill battle to win the presidency since women are only in their prime in their ’20s, 30s, and 40s.”
After receiving pushback from his co-host Poppy Harlow, Lemon said, “I’m just saying what the facts are. Google it. Everybody at home, when is a woman in her prime, it says the 20s, 30s, and 40s. 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.”
Lemon issued apology after intense backlash
Following the intense backlash, Lemon tweeted an apology. “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.”
An insider at CNN told Fox News Digital that Lemon’s internal apology was the “most pathetic attempt at an apology I have ever heard in my life.”
“Everyone’s annoyed…People are definitely upset about it,” said one source to Fox News Digital.
“I was trying to figure out what the hell he was even talking about,” said another insider. “None of it made any sense; it was a stupid thing to say.”
Lemon’s controversial comments represent only the most recent episode in turmoil at “CNN This Morning.”
Fox News Digital confirmed last month that Lemon had “snapped” at coworker Kaitlan Collins for interrupting him during a broadcast in December, which left her “visibly upset,” according to sources.