CNN CEO Slams Lemon: Remarks on Haley 'Unacceptable'

Chris Licht said he was 'disappointed' in anchor for saying on air that Haley wasn't in her 'prime'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2023 12:34 PM CST
CNN CEO Slams Lemon: Remarks on Haley 'Unacceptable'
CNN news anchor Don Lemon is seen at Madison Square Garden on May 15, 2019, in New York.   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

A self-admitted "inartful" comment made by CNN host Don Lemon about GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley—a remark that's widely being called sexist by many others—has now earned an official rebuke from his boss. On Friday, the cable news network's CEO, Chris Licht, kicked off his morning editorial call by chastising Lemon, who on Thursday had said on air that Haley, 51, "isn't in her prime," and that only a woman "in her 20s and 30s and maybe 40s" could be considered to be so. "His remarks were upsetting, unacceptable, and unfair to his co-hosts, and ultimately a huge distraction to the great work of this organization," a "disappointed" Licht said in the call, which was heard by the New York Times.

Lemon, who didn't appear Friday on CNN This Morning with Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins due to what he says was a previously scheduled day off, also dialed in to the call. "I'm sorry," he said, per the Daily Beast. "I didn't mean to hurt anyone. I did not mean to offend anyone. What I said came out wrong and I wish I hadn't said it." In what the Times notes was a six-minute monologue, Lemon went on to note that "I believe women of any age can do anything they set their minds to," and that those he's closest to at CNN happen to be women, counting anchors Erin Burnett and Dana Bash in that circle.

"When I make a mistake. I own it, and I own this one as well," Lemon added. "I understand why you are upset and disappointed." The 56-year-old's previous statement on the matter, which he tweeted Thursday, referenced his remarks about Haley as "inartful and irrelevant." It's not clear how everyone who took part in Friday's call reacted to his mea culpa, but the Daily Beast quotes one senior staffer afterward as saying, "This is great, but it's our viewers who deserve an apology." (More Don Lemon stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.