Don Lemon's CNN Return Has Been Confirmed, But The Fallout Over His Sexist Comments Continues

While Fox News is currently facing fallout from its ongoing lawsuit battle against Dominion Voting Systems, CNN is dealing with a controversial situation of its own thanks to Don Lemon’s past-her-prime comments about presidential hopeful Nikki Haley. The outspoken anchor has been off the air since the start of the backlash, which arguably began in-segment thanks to pushback from co-anchors Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins, but is now confirmed to be returning this week after  multiple apologies were voiced. It doesn’t seem like the controversy will be fully concluded, however. 

When Don Lemon Is Returning To CNN

Despite some speculation that Don Lemon might lost his day job over his comments, CNN’s big boss Chris Licht shared a memo with the network’s stacked staff on Monday night to break the news that the anchor will be back on the air starting on Wednesday, February 22. Here’s what he said in the memo, according to the Daily Beast

To my CNN Colleagues, I sat down with Don and had a frank and meaningful conversation. 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.

Don Lemon took a day off the Friday after his comments were made on the air, which included him questioning why the 51-year-old Nikki Haley was speaking about others’ mental capacities when she herself is, if you look at “Google or whatever it is,” past her prime. Lemon claimed that such research would show that women are in peak mode in their “20s, 30s, and 40s.” 

Lemon’s post-segment apology on Twitter didn’t exactly go over well with the outside world, and a similar reaction was granted to his call-in apologies to CNN staffers on Friday morning. He was eventually pulled from his duties for Monday’s CNN This Morning. However, he and Chris Licht reportedly met up early Monday to hash things out, coming to whatever agreement led the network head honcho to reveal to others that Lemon would be back.

Don Lemon hasn’t exactly sparked a whole lot of positive headlines and goodwill in the last year or so. He managed to duck an assault lawsuit in mid-2022 after his accuser dropped it, but became embroiled in another one when former CNN personality Chris Cuomo sued the network for firing him over ties to brother Andrew Cuomo’s downfall. 

The Aftermath Of Don Lemon’s Controversial Comments

As noted in Chris Licht’s memo, part of the stipulations for Lemon returning to his co-anchor spot on CNN This Morning will revolve around him taking part in some kind of formal training, though those details were not relayed. One could assume there will be some kind of classes or meetings that are meant to instruct and inform about gender equality and workplace behavior. Though it doesn’t sound like his colleagues at the network believe this to be a proper punishment for comments that he doubled-down on during the segment. 

While Lemon may be holding onto steady employment at CNN, the anchor has apparently dropped out of an upcoming event for which he’d been announced as a moderator. He was set to be front and center for Agents of Change, which is described as being “a conversation about race and real estate in honor of Black History Month,” and is being held on Tuesday, February 21.

According to TMZ, Lemon was reportedly concerned about how his own negative publicity might affect coverage of the event, which fell in line with the views shared by event coordinators for the company Douglas Elliman. As such, he exited, and has been replaced by real estate broker John Gomes as the moderator.

Expect for some more on-air apologies whenever Don Lemon is back on the small screen, and probably expect more than a few social media reactions about it, no matter which way it goes. Lemon has drawn criticisms elsewhere for taking Stephen Colbert’s outfit comments far too personally, and he was also vocal about jokes that Dave Chappelle made about him onstage. 

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.