Don Lemon got into a heated argument with CNN hosts Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins after he claimed that GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley was "not in her prime," prompting them to storm off the set of "CNN This Morning." According to reports, Lemon's sexist rant turned out to be so toxic that Harlow decided not to continue with the show.
Collins followed Harlow immediately and walked off the set of the show. Lemon's distasteful remarks about Haley further add pressure on CNN boss Chris Licht to dump the acid-tongued host. According to sources, the relationship between Lemmon, Harlow and Collins was already souring for quite some time.
As Toxic as It Could Get
After months of hosting primetime, Lemon, who joined the morning show in December, oddly implied the former governor of South Carolina wasn't in her "prime" and should be cautious when using that word to criticize other politicians. He also said that politicians aged 75 and up should face competency tests.
Lemon is five years Haley's senior at 56. His remarks, which included criticism of both women and older politicians, resulted in palpable tension on the CNN set.
The toxic remark prompted Harlow to storm off the "CNN This Morning" set, according to sources with knowledge of the incident.
One of the sources claimed that Harlow took a "well-timed" toilet break and that co-host Kaitlan Collins, who just had her own run-in with Lemon, followed her into the lavatory.
According to a DailyMail.com report, the insider claimed that the tight dynamic between Lemon, Collins, and Harlow has "been smoldering for months."
According to insiders, Lemon's behavior since joining the show has been driving Collins and Harlow crazy, and his words were the final straw in their already failing relationship.
"Chris isn't happy and he has spoken to Don a couple times today," the network source said. "Don knows it can't happen again," the insider said.
ON Thursday, 30 employees asked Licht about the network's poor ratings during an unofficial meeting dubbed "Coffee with Chris."
One reportedly inquired about Lemon's remarks regarding Haley, 51, the source said.
"People say stupid things and that if it's a trend then there's recourse," the source said, paraphrasing Licht's comments.
Nothing's Going to Change
The ratings-challenged network, which Licht has been tasked with rescuing following the network's high-profile merger with Discovery, forming a media powerhouse that also includes HBO and Warner Bros., was allegedly among the other subjects covered at the afternoon meeting.
While CNN adjusts to the merger, Licht has stated that his one goal as president is to make sure the company "remains the global leader in news," emphasizing the term "news" in capital letters.
The CEO's goal of creating a more straightforward, non-partisan news network, moving away from opinionated reporting and personalities that grew common under Trump's administration, appears to be threatened by the incident on Thursday, though.
However, Thursday's incident will only likely make the work culture more toxic. The 40-year-old Harlow returned to finish Thursday's show, but she had appeared surprised when Lemon launched into his rambling, illogical tirade over Haley's request for mental competency testing for legislators over the age of 75.
"This whole talk about age makes me uncomfortable," the 56-year-old Lemon 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."
Lemon said, " A woman is considered to be in their prime in [their] 20s and 30s and maybe 40s."," which confused Harlow and Collins.
Harlow almost immediately snapped at Lemon saying: "What are you talking about, wait ... Prime for what?"
Lemon made a hasty attempt to rescue face by insisting he wasn't expressing his personal views. "That's not according to me," he said. "It's like, prime. If you look it up. If you Google when is a woman in her prime, it'll say 20s, 30s and 40s," Lemon said.
"I'm just saying Nikki Haley should be careful about saying that politicians are not in their prime and they need to be in their prime when they serve. Because she wouldn't be in her prime according to, you know, Google," he continued.
Lemon later apologized made an apology after facing intense internal and online backlash. "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."
In December, Lemon had yelled at Collins after she had interrupted him on the air. Since then, the two have seldom ever shared a set, but Collins, 30, was present on Thursday.