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Thursday, June 13, 2024

CNN Anchor Don Lemon to Return on Wednesday Following Controversy

CNN’s Don Lemon will return to his regular morning-show role on Wednesday after participating in formal training over his on-air comments about women and aging. In a memo sent late on Monday, CNN’s chairman Chris Licht said that the network took “this situation very seriously” and that “it is important to me that CNN balances accountability with fostering a culture in which people can own, learn and grow from their mistakes.” Mr. Lemon had been absent from Tuesday’s broadcast of “CNN This Morning” after asserting on the air that Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley “isn’t in her prime, sorry,” before adding that “a woman is considered to be in her prime in her 20s and 30s and maybe 40s.” The remarks had caused an uproar, with Mr. Licht rebuking Mr. Lemon on an editorial call on Friday morning and calling the anchor’s comments “upsetting, unacceptable and unfair.”

Mr. Lemon had previously been scheduled to be off on Friday and was photographed over the weekend at a luxury resort in Miami Beach, raising speculation within television circles about whether he would return at all. However, a CNN spokesman said Mr. Lemon had taken off Presidents’ Day and had decided to participate in formal training after the incident. The spokesman declined to elaborate further, saying the network did not comment on personnel matters.

The success of “CNN This Morning” is of significant interest to Mr. Licht, a former morning-show producer himself who formally took charge of CNN in the spring of 2022. His decision to pair Mr. Lemon, who previously hosted a 10 p.m. program, with Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins was his biggest programming gamble at the network to date. Mr. Licht has said the show is designed to be a “mass appeal play,” but in its first few months on the air, its ratings have not kept up with competitors on MSNBC and Fox News. Tensions have bubbled up between the co-anchors, and the executive producer has already been replaced.

The network’s decision to address the matter in a memo in the waning hours of a holiday weekend reflected the shadow the episode had cast over the network. Mr. Licht said he had sat down with Mr. Lemon and had a “frank and meaningful conversation.” He added that “CNN balances accountability with fostering a culture in which people can own, learn and grow from their mistakes.”

The controversy over Mr. Lemon’s comments highlights the continuing challenges that news organizations face in creating an inclusive and respectful workplace culture. While CNN’s response was swift and decisive, the incident also raises broader questions about the industry’s efforts to address issues of diversity and inclusion. As more news organizations seek to create a more inclusive and equitable work environment, incidents like these serve as a reminder of the importance of ongoing training and education to help prevent such incidents from occurring in the first place.

David Faber
David Faber
I am a Business Journalist of The National Era
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