Don Lemon Returns to 'CNN This Morning' After Second Apology for Sexist Remarks: 'I'm Learning'

"I'm committed to doing better," Lemon said on Twitter Wednesday, in his second written apology for stating on air that Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley, 51, is "past her prime"

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 12: Don Lemon attends The 15th Annual CNN Heroes: All-Star Tribute at American Museum of Natural History on December 12, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Dominik Bindl/Getty Images)
Don Lemon. Photo: Dominik Bindl/Getty

Don Lemon returned to CNN This Morning on Wednesday, nearly one week after inviting backlash for comments he made about Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley being "past her prime."

The 56-year-old anchor focused solely on the news during the broadcast, kicking off the show at 6 a.m. ET by discussing President Joe Biden's remarks about Ukraine during his visit to Poland. But 25 minutes before cameras rolled, Lemon issued yet another apology for his words on Twitter.

"I appreciate this opportunity to be back on CNN This Morning today," he wrote. "To my network, my colleagues and our incredible audience — I'm sorry. I've heard you. I'm learning from you, and I'm committed to doing better. See you soon."

Lemon made the denigrating remarks during a Feb. 16 episode of CNN This Morning, while discussing politicians' ages in a segment with co-hosts Poppy Harlow, 40, and Kaitlan Collins, 30 — the latter of whom was in Warsaw on Wednesday.

"This whole talk about age makes me uncomfortable," Lemon said, alluding to comments Haley, 51, has made suggesting that politicians over the age of 75 should be forced to take mental competency tests. "I think it's the wrong road to go down."

Lemon continued, "She says ... politicians are not in their prime. Nikki Haley isn't in her prime. Sorry. A woman is considered to be in their prime in 20s and 30s and maybe 40s."

Asked by Harlow to clarify what he was trying to say, Lemon responded, "That's not according to me. ... If you Google 'When is a woman in her prime,' it'll say 20s, 30s and 40s. I don't necessarily — I'm not saying I agree with that."

Viewers were quick to call Lemon's remarks sexist and ageist, with many also highlighting that he is five years older than Haley.

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at a rally for Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker in Hiram, Georgia on November 6th, 2022.
Nikki Haley speaks at a rally for Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker in Nov. 2022. Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Hours later, Lemon apologized on social media for his comments. "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," he 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."

Lemon did not appear on air during the next three broadcasts. He reportedly had a previously scheduled day off on Friday, but his absence Monday and Tuesday appeared a response to the backlash.

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On Monday evening, CNN staffers were notified by network chairman Chris Licht that Lemon had agreed to undergo training after a "frank and meaningful conversation" and would soon be returning as co-host.

"He has agreed to participate in formal training, as well as continuing to listen and learn," the memo obtained by PEOPLE read. "We take this situation very seriously. It is important to me that CNN balances accountability with a 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."

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