Megyn Kelly calls for Don Lemon to be fired over treatment of women
As controversy continues to swirl around CNN's Don Lemon over his on-air assertions about when women are considered in their “prime,” network CEO Chris Licht appears hesitant to force his ouster, but others – including journalist Megyn Kelly – believe his career should be effectively over, as the Daily Mail reports.
Discussing the situation on her SiriusXM radio show this week, Kelly took aim at Licht for what she sees as a blatant abdication of responsibility, asking rhetorically, “Do women matter?”
Lemon's sour note
The trouble for Lemon began back on Feb. 16 when – in the context of 52-year-old Nikki Haley's presidential campaign kickoff – he stated during the broadcast of CNN This Morning that the GOP hopeful was not “in her prime.”
Lemon dug the hole deeper when he contended that women are “in their prime” during their 20s, 30s, and perhaps into their 40s.
When challenged on the air by female colleagues, Lemon persisted, saying, “Don't shoot the messenger, I'm just saying what the facts are.”
Following the on-set dust-up, Lemon was absent from the airwaves and issued what was viewed by many as a non-apology in which he simply expressed regret for having made the “inartful and irrelevant” remarks.
Given that Lemon's conduct has on prior occasions drawn the ire of female colleagues the network, including co-host Kaitlan Collins, pressure had been mounting on Licht to take drastic action with regard to the outspoken host, but it was soon evident that his ouster was likely not imminent, as the Associated Press notes.
The outlet cited a New York Times report stating that Licht took Lemon to task during a Friday phone call, declaring his on-air commentary to be “upsetting, unacceptable and unfair,” and a “huge distraction.”
Licht was said to have further explained, “I sat down with Don and had a frank and meaningful conversation. He has agreed to participate in formal training, as well as continuing to listen and learn. We take this situation very seriously.”
With that, Lemon was permitted to make a Wednesday morning return to his co-hosting duties, as the New York Post noted, taking a moment to tweet another attempt at an apology that read, “I appreciate the opportunity to be back on @CNNThisMorning today. To my network, my colleagues and our incredible audience – I'm sorry. I've heard you, I'm learning from you, and I'm committed to doing better. See you soon.”
“Do women matter?”
The aforementioned manner in which Lemon's misconduct was handled by CNN did not pass muster with Kelly, who railed against the network's CEO for seemingly disregarding the harm done by the host's words.
“Do women matter? Does our offense matter to CNN or does someone have to grab a boob for us to count Chris Licht? That's my question to you,” said Kelly.
Dismissing Licht's actions as little more than a slap on the wrist, Kelly continued, “It shouldn't have to be that you were raped by a man, or 21 women come forward alleging that they've been sexually harassed by a man, or they've been inappropriately touched by a man for their offense to manner.”
The former Fox News personality went on, “We've seen person after person get fired because they caused offense, mere offense, when it comes to race, when it comes to sexual orientation, when it comes to gender identity. Does women's offense matter?... Because this guy managed to piss off half the country. It's not left or right.”
While Licht may view the situation with Lemon over and done with, the Daily Mail suggests that a significant number of CNN insiders – many of whom are women – do not share that sentiment and have pledged to quit due to mounting outrage over his conduct.
A source close to the controversy said of Lemon, “People are hurt by his actions and are not going to let this go. It is like every woman over 50 in America has taken this as a personal insult. The female staffers at CNN definitely have. He needs to make his vacation a permanent one.”
Another insider declared that “the women of CNN are angry. He's made it impossible to do their jobs. He's an embarrassment to the network and needs to go.”
Though a source with knowledge of the situation maintained that “CNN has been literally, flooded like a tidal wave with extremely angry and offended loyal viewers,” Lemon's Wednesday morning return to the studio may be telling evidence that Licht is betting that their rage will be short-lived and ultimately insufficient to outweigh the public relations risk of such a high-profile firing.