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20 Feb, 2023 15:02

Top CNN anchor taken off air after Nikki Haley comment – media

Don Lemon claimed that 51-year-old US presidential candidate “isn’t in her prime”
Top CNN anchor taken off air after Nikki Haley comment – media

Veteran CNN anchor Don Lemon has been temporarily taken off-air following his controversial jibe against US presidential candidate Nikki Haley, several US media outlets reported on Sunday, citing sources. 

The scandal broke out on Thursday when Lemon declared that the 51-year-old Republican, who’d just announced she is running for US president in 2024, “isn’t in her prime” based on her age.

“A woman is considered to be in her prime in her 20s and 30s and maybe 40s,” he said, prompting raised eyebrows from his two female co-anchors.

The remark came in response to Haley’s earlier call to introduce mandatory competency tests for politicians older than 75, a not-so-veiled jab at 80-year-old President Joe Biden and at 76-year-old former President Donald Trump, who is also set to run again in 2024.

According to a CNN insider quoted by Fox News on Sunday, Lemon was removed from the line-up on Monday’s CNN This Morning and does not plan to return at least until Tuesday. The outlet’s sources added that the anchor’s potential comeback depends on “where his head is at.”

Lemon’s alleged benching was also reported by Daily Beast, with one source describing the scandal-plagued anchor as “a constant distraction” and adding that “there are ongoing conversations about Don’s future.” 

Haley was US ambassador to the United Nations in the Trump administration from 2017 to 2018. Prior to that, she served six years as Governor of South Carolina. 

CNN’s chairman Chris Licht branded Lemon’s remarks as “upsetting, unacceptable and unfair to his co-hosts,” according to a recording obtained by the New York Times of an editorial call.

Lemon himself issued an apology in his Twitter account, describing his comments as “inartful and irrelevant,” adding that a woman’s age “doesn’t define her either personally or professionally.”

A CNN spokesperson attempted to downplay Lemon’s Monday absence, telling Mediaite that the anchor was taking the holiday as he had been “chased by paparazzi all weekend” following the comments. “He’s been under attack. He’s not ready to go back on air,” the spokesperson said.