Don Lemon Absent From CNN for Second Day Following Nikki Haley Remarks


John Lamparski/WireImage Don Lemon

Don Lemon was absent on Monday from a second consecutive broadcast of CNN This Morning amid controversy from comments he made about presidential candidate Nikki Haley last Thursday.

Variety reports that CNN staffers were notified Sunday that Lemon would not be on the air Monday, despite that he was expected to return to co-hosting duties after taking a previously-scheduled day off last Friday.

A rep for CNN did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment about Lemon's absence, which comes after he made headlines for suggesting Haley, a Republican who recently announced her candidacy for president, was "past her prime."

Haley, the former governor of South Carolina who served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President Donald Trump from January 2017 to December 2018, is 51.

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The remarks came as Lemon was discussing the age of politicians in a segment with co-hosts Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins.

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

Lemon — who, at 56, is five years older than Haley — 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."


NBC News Nikki Haley speaking at the Republican National Convention

Pressed by Harlow to clarify his remarks, Lemon said: "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."

The backlash was swift, with critics decrying Lemon's remarks as sexist and ageist, and reports suggesting he has clashed with female colleagues in the past.

Those within the network also expressed disappointment in Lemon. The New York Times reports that CNN's chairman, Chris Licht, told staff in a recent phone call that Lemon's "remarks were upsetting, unacceptable and unfair to his co-hosts, and ultimately a huge distraction to the great work of this organization."

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Hours after he made the comments, Lemon apologized via social media, writing: "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. A woman's age doesn't define her either personally or professionally. I have countless women in my life who prove that every day."

Variety and the Times report that Lemon also apologized to his colleagues Friday, saying, per the Times: "I am sorry. I did not mean to hurt anyone. I did not mean to offend anyone."