Don Lemon Responds to Backlash to His Comments About Women in Their 'Prime'

CNN This Morning anchor Don Lemon responded to the backlash surrounding his comments about women during the Thursday morning broadcast. While discussing former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's run for the Republican presidential nomination, Lemon suggested Haley was "not in her prime" at 51. Even Lemon's co-hosts Poppy Harley and Kaitlan Collins were instantly taken aback.

"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," Lemon tweeted. "A woman's age doesn't define her either personally or professionally. I have countless women in my life who prove that every day."

During Thursday's broadcast, Harlow, Collins, and Lemon discussed Haley's recent comment that politicians older than 75 should take "mandatory mental competency tests." Collins suggested that this was a shot at President Joe Biden, 80, and former President Donald Trump, 76. "America is not past our prime... it's just that our politicians are past theirs," Haley said when launching her campaign.

Lemon, 56, took the conversation in a different direction. "This whole talk about age makes me uncomfortable," he said. "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 their 20s and 30s and maybe 40s."

Harlow, 40, tried to jump in, but Lemon claimed he was stating facts. Harlow joked that she has "another decade" left. "I'm not saying I agree with that," Lemon insisted. "So I think she has to be careful about saying that, you know, politicians are in their prime."

"Are you talking about prime for, like, childbearing?" Harlow asked. "Or are you talking about prime for being president?"

Lemon then told viewers to "Google it" and insisted women are in their "prime" in their 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," Lemon said. "She would not be in her prime according to Google, or whatever it is."

Viewers at home weren't the only ones disturbed by Lemon's comments. "There were grumbles of mansplaining," a female CNN employee told The Daily Beast. "And how much longer the women should have to be talked down to before there's a change." Multiple sources said there were complaints internally about the segment.

Haley responded by tweeting the segment and mentioning it in new fundraising emails. "Liberals can't stand the idea of having competency tests for older politicians to make sure they can do the job," she wrote. "BTW it's always the liberals who are the most sexist."