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CNN anchor Don Lemon apologizes after sexist on-air comments

By Elizabeth Delaney
|
February 17, 2023

CNN anchor Don Lemon made the unfortunate mistake of stepping on a cultural landmine on Thursday.

One man's opinion of a wrong road lead to another wrong road

During "CNN This Morning," which Lemon co-hosts with Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow, the trio was discussing  the part of Nikki Haley's presidential campaign platform in which she has said she feels politicians over 75-years-old should be required to take a "mental competency test," according to the Daily Mail.

Lemon commented that he thought Haley was choosing "the wrong road to go down" because "Nikki Haley isn't in her prime," and that a woman is in her prime in her 20s, 30s and maybe 40s.

Co-anchor Poppy Harlow called him out on that comment and asked, "What are you talking about? Wait, prime for what?"

Lemon plowed through the awkward discussion and suggested that if a person were to Google, "What is a woman in her prime" that the ages he rattled off were the ages Google displayed.

Younger staffers at CNN expressed that they were offended by Lemon's comments, and questioned how CNN could expect to book future female politicians and other newsmakers when Lemon just publicly expressed age prejudice against them, according to Variety.

Haley took to her Twitter account after this incident to respond to the incident.

Haley clarifies who she believes competency test recipients should be

Though Lemon didn't seem to be able to clarify for himself what he meant by a "woman's prime," Haley wasn't the least bit nebulous regarding what she meant by who should be subjected to competency tests when she posted on her Twitter account.

"To be clear, I am NOT calling for competency tests for Sexist middle-aged CNN anchors; only for people who make our laws and are 75+" she wrote

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

Lemon did post his regret with regard to his comments, which shows on Haley's Twitter.

"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," he wrote.

The need to dig deeper than a general Google search for legitimate sources

One has to wonder who decided that a general Google search alone provides the absolute truth or authority on anything.

As a long-time media veteran, Lemon’s decision to wade into such turbulent conjecture was by all accounts, a miscalculation.

If someone were to use his same generalized method and Google that same question for men, there would be uncomplimentary bias toward them.

A very generalized Google search differentiates between when a man is physically in his prime (early to mid 20s) verses when he is intellectually and emotionally in his prime (about age 40).