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CNN's Don Lemon apologizes for sexist remarks about Nikki Haley

Don Lemon appears at the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala in December.
Mike Coppola
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Getty Images for 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala
Don Lemon appears at the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Gala in December.

Don Lemon issued apologies both publicly and in an editorial meeting with his CNN colleagues following remarks he made about women and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley earlier this week.

"I'm sorry that I said it," Lemon said at an editorial meeting with his colleagues on Friday, according to CNN. "And I certainly see why people found it completely misguided."

During an episode of CNN This Morning that aired Thursday, Lemon said that Haley, who recently announced her candidacy for presidentin the 2024 election, "isn't in her prime." Haley is 51.

The CNN anchor continued with his argument by adding a women is "considered to be in her prime in her 20s and 30s and maybe 40s."

After the episode aired, Haley and others lambasted the anchor for his comments.

"Liberals can't stand the idea of having competency tests for older politicians to make sure they can do the job," Haley tweeted. "BTW it's always the liberals who are the most sexist."

Rep. Mayra Flores, R-Texas, wrote: "According to Don Lemon and Google we are on our prime in our 20s,30s & 40s. Google also says men can get pregnant. Don Lemon and Google know nothing about women and our prime!"

Several hours after the episode ran, Lemon tweeted:"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."

In addition to not appearing on the show the following day, Lemon also issued another apology to his CNN colleagues during the editorial meeting. During the meeting, CNN's chief executive, Chris Licht, also called Lemon's comments "unacceptable" and "unfair to his co-hosts."

"The people I am closest to in this organization are women," Lemon also reportedly said at the meeting. "The people I seek counsel from most in this organization are women."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Giulia Heyward
Giulia Heyward is a weekend reporter for Digital News, based out of New York. She previously covered education and other national news as a reporting fellow at The New York Times and as the national education reporter at Capital B News. She interned for POLITICO, where she covered criminal justice reform in Florida, and CNN, as a writer for the trends & culture team. Her work has also been published in The Atlantic, HuffPost and The New Republic.