Don Lemon Absent From 'CNN This Morning' Following Controversial Nikki Haley Comments

Don Lemon was absent from work on Friday morning after his controversial comments about Republican politician Nikki Haley on Thursday. Lemon and his CNN This Morning co-anchors were reporting on Haley's presidential campaign on Thursday when he made a comment that some perceived as sexist and ageist. Lemon apologized to colleagues on an editorial call on Friday morning and posted a public apology on Twitter, but he did not appear on air.

Lemon took heavy criticism for his remarks about Haley on Thursday. Haley announced her own campaign for the presidency this week and is seeking the Republican party's nomination. Comparing herself to competitors, Haley suggested that all elected officials over the age of 75 should be required to undergo "mandatory mental competency tests." While discussing this idea, Lemon remarked that 51-year-old Haley might be opening herself up to criticism as well.

"This whole talk about age makes me uncomfortable. I think it's the wrong road to go down. She says people, you know, politicians are suddenly not in their prime. Nikki Haley isn't in her prime. Sorry, when a woman is in their prime in 20s and 30s and maybe 40s," Lemon said. When his co-anchor Poppy Harlow asked what he meant by "prime," Lemon continued: "Don't shoot the messenger, I'm just saying what the facts are. Google it. Everybody at home, when is a woman in her prime? It says 20s, 30s and 40s. I'm just saying Nikki Haley should careful about saying that politicians are not in their prime, and they need to be in their prime when they serve. She would not be in her prime according to Google, or whatever it is."

Haley later tweeted about Lemon's remarks, saying that he was being sexist and suggesting that President Joe Biden should undergo cognitive testing. After more outcry from critics, Lemon tweeted an apology on Friday morning. He did not appear on the air, but according to a report by The New York Post he did apologize in a phone call with his colleagues at around 9 a.m. ET. CNN CEO Chris Licht also spoke on the call, condeming Lemon's remarks in strong terms.

"I'm sorry. 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," Lemon said on the call. "I believe women of any age can do anything they set their minds to. The people I am closest to in this organization are women. When I make a mistake, I own it, and I own this one as well. I understand why you are upset and disappointed. I was trying to make the point that no one's age should define their ambition or potential for success and I was saying those comments to Nikki Haley."