Don Lemon Still Off-Air at CNN, But His Return Date Is Set

Don Lemon has been off the air on CNN This Morning since last week, but he will return on Wednesday. Lemon sparked controversy on Thursday with comments about politician Nikki Haley's age, and it raged on all weekend. Lemon was absent from work on Friday and Monday, but on Monday night CNN CEO Chris Licht sent a memo to employees to explain the plan for his return.

"I sat down with Don and had a frank and meaningful conversation," Licht wrote in a memo to employees, which was later published by CNN. "He has agreed to participate in formal training, as well as continuing to listen and learn. We take this situation very seriously. It is important to me that CNN balances accountability with... fostering a culture in which people can own, learn and grow from their mistakes. To that end, Don will return to CNN This Morning on Wednesday."

This controversy began last week when Haley announced her campaign for the presidency in 2024. The 51-year-old politician is seeking the Republican party's nomination. She was the Governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017 and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 2017 to 2018. Haley has raised a lot of eyebrows among political pundits for trying to distance herself from former President Donald Trump without taking a firm stance against his most inflammatory behavior, such as his denial of the 2020 election results.

Haley seemed to be criticizing both Trump and President Joe Biden last week when she proposed that all politicians over the age of 75 should be forced to undergo "mental competency tests." However, Lemon drew the controversy down on himself when he remarked that Haley might be inviting some criticism on herself. He said that Haley "isn't in her prime" either, which some perceived as sexist and ageist.

"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. His co-anchor Poppy Harlow asked him what he meant by "prime," asking if he was referring to "child-bearing," and Lemon seemed to realize he had misspoken at once.

"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," Lemon said. "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 that she believed Lemon's remarks were misogynistic, but she doubled down on her assertion that Biden is not mentally fit to hold the presidency. Lemon is due back on the air on Wednesday morning after three days away.