CNN personality Don Lemon, who is no stranger to controversy, may have crossed a bridge too far this past week with comments about declared GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley not being in her "prime" that were broadly construed and denounced as sexist and demeaning.
Now there are growing calls, from both the right and left, for Lemon to be fired or at the very least suspended by CNN for what was said, Fox News reported.
It was during Thursday's "CNN This Morning" that Lemon, in reference to Haley's suggestion that elderly politicians should undergo mental competency tests, remarked that Haley, 51, was herself past "her prime" and had no room to talk about others.
"She says people, politicians are not in their prime," Lemon said. "Nikki Haley is not in her prime, sorry. A woman is considered to be in her prime in her 20s, 30s, and maybe her 40s."
USA Today noted that co-host Poppy Harlow immediately pushed back and sought to clarify whether Lemon meant "prime for childbearing" or "prime for being president," but Lemon then proceeded to make everything worse for himself.
"If you Google, 'when is a woman in her prime,' it'll say 20s, 30s, and 40s," Lemon replied. "I'm not saying I agree with that, so I think she has to be careful about saying that" about other politicians.
CNN's Don Lemon got personal when he criticized Nikki Haley's comments calling for competency tests for politicians over 75 years old — an apparent shot at Trump, 76, and Biden, 80.
"Haley isn’t in her prime.," he said. "A woman is in their prime in 20s and 30s and maybe 40s." pic.twitter.com/rJrTTnMPRB
— POLITICO (@politico) February 16, 2023
Fox News noted that the blowback on social media was nearly instantaneous as clips of Lemon's remarks went viral and he was roundly condemned for the obvious misogyny and crassness of his dismissive commentary.
Indeed, numerous conservative and independent figures on Twitter called upon CNN to finally cut ties with the controversial host, even if the network had to use his consistently low ratings as a face-saving excuse to do so.
It wasn't just the center and right calling for CNN to take action against Lemon, as The Hill reported that progressive leftist feminist group UltraViolet also insisted that the network needed to immediately suspend the host for his "egregiously sexist comments about women being 'in their prime.'"
For what it is worth, Lemon later issued an apology for his "inartful and irrelevant" remarks, but few were willing to accept that he was truly sorry for what he had said.
"The anchor’s cavalier public apology for such flagrantly patronizing, chauvinistic remarks signifies nothing of accountability or consequence," UltraViolet communications director Bridget Todd said in calling for Lemon's suspension. "The network should also continue to monitor Lemon’s on-air appearances for gender bias, and be prepared to take additional action if needed."
The New York Post reported that Lemon was "conspicuously absent" from the show on Friday, and word is that CNN chief Chris Licht gave him a "scathing rebuke" amid demands from even some of Lemon's fellow CNN colleagues to cut him loose and send him on his way.
The Post further noted that co-host Harlow reportedly stormed off the set following Lemon's remarks, that she and Lemon have gotten into arguments before, as has Lemon with fellow co-host Kaitlan Collins, and that tensions between all three have been "smoldering" for months.