Don Lemon has been given "a proverbial slap on the wrist" for his comments about older women, the Daily Beast reports. Absent since Thursday, Lemon will return as a co-host on CNN This Morning on Wednesday after agreeing "to participate in formal training, as well as continuing to listen and learn," CNN boss Chris Licht told network staff in a Monday memo. "We take this situation very seriously," though "it is important to me that CNN balances accountability with fostering a culture in which people can own, learn, and grow from their mistakes," Licht added. Some at the network are reportedly unimpressed with the redress.
Lemon's Thursday comments about 2024 Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, 51, being past her prime was just the "latest insult" from the anchor, who shows a pattern in what he "repeatedly says about women and to them," a staffer tells the Beast. A year ago, co-anchors Poppy Harlow and Kaitlin Collins chided Lemon after he said athletes on the US men's soccer team should be paid more than those on the women's team because the men are "more interesting to watch," a comment he immediately tried to walk back. His recent comments can be seen as "particularly detrimental because they took aim at an important part of the AM audience: women over 40," per Variety, which reports viewership of CNN This Morning was down 25% in January from its debut month of November.
Lemon, 56, apologized Friday, saying "I believe women of any age can do anything they set their minds to." His Friday absence was reportedly due to a pre-scheduled day off. He was "benched" Monday, however, amid discussions about his future at the network, the Beast reports. Licht said the pair met Monday for "a frank and meaningful conversation" as his return was decided. In addition to Tuesday's show, Lemon will miss a Douglas Elliman event he was scheduled to host Tuesday in New York City in honor of Black History Month as he aims to "push himself out of the limelight," TMZ reports. (Read more Don Lemon stories.)