Don Lemon out at CNN after controversial on-air comments

Veteran television host faced accusations of sexism and ageism in conversation about Nikki Haley

Don Lemon during a televised debate on CNN. Reuters
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Don Lemon is out at CNN, the company and host announced on Monday, months after he made controversial comments about Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley.

“CNN and Don have parted ways,” the company's chief executive Chris Licht said in a statement to staff.

“Don will forever be a part of the CNN family, and we thank him for his contributions over the past 17 years. We wish him well and will be cheering him on in his future endeavours.”

The company did not share the reasoning behind his removal, which was announced shortly after his appearance on the network on Monday.

“I was informed this morning by my agent that I have been terminated by CNN,” Lemon posted on Twitter. “I am stunned.”

He claimed that he was not informed of his termination ahead of the announcement being made public.

“After 17 years at CNN I would have thought that someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly.

“At no time was I ever given any indication that I would not be able to continue to do the work I have loved at the network.

“It is clear that there are some larger issues at play.”

The company later issued a statement on Twitter disputing Lemon's claims.

“Don Lemon’s statement about this morning’s events is inaccurate. He was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter,” it read.

Lemon was recently put on hiatus after making comments in February about the age of women in politics during a conversation about Ms Haley and her presidential campaign.

He claimed that Ms Haley, aged 51, was not “in her prime” and said that a woman, in his opinion and in reference to “facts” he could not back up, was considered “in her prime” in their “20s, 30s and maybe her 40s”.

Co-anchor Poppy Harlow pushed back on his statements at the time: “I think we need to qualify. Are you talking about prime for childbearing or are you talking about prime for being president?”

The interaction went viral and Lemon received a great deal of backlash, with the comments described as ageist and sexist. He later apologised and Mr Licht ordered him to receive “formal training” before his return to air.

Updated: April 25, 2023, 7:14 AM