CNN This Morning co-host Don Lemon left his colleagues visibly stunned this morning when he stated that former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and other women over the age of 50 are not in their “prime.” Lemon’s remarks came after Haley, who just announced she is running for president, said she would support “mental competency tests” for politicians over the age of 75.
The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is 51 years old and trying to position herself as part of a new, younger generation of Republicans and politicians in general, and her comments were clearly aimed at President Joe Biden (who, at 78 years and 61 days old, was the oldest president ever sworn in to office) and former president/fellow GOP hopeful Donald Trump (who would be pushing 79 by Inauguration Day in January 2025).
The reaction to Lemon’s comments has been swift, and on Thursday’s show, Megyn was joined by National Review’s Jim Geraghty and Michael Brendan Dougherty to discuss the former primetime host’s “misogyny” and offer him an education on women in their “prime.”
What Don Lemon Said About Women in Their ‘Prime’
After a segment about Haley’s call for mental competency tests, Lemon was clearly dismayed by the suggestion. “All talk about age makes me uncomfortable, and I think that it’s the wrong road to go down,” he said on-air in the presence of his female colleagues – Kaitlan Collins, 30, and Poppy Harlow, 40. “She says people, you know, politicians are not in their prime. Nikki Haley isn’t in her prime. Sorry. When a woman is considered being in her prime is in her twenties and thirties and maybe forties.”
Clearly taken aback, Harlow interrupted to ask, “prime for what?” She suggested that perhaps Lemon meant prime childbearing years, though he seemingly did not. Instead, he tried to point to Google as the source of his information. “I’m just saying what the facts are,” he said. “Google it, everybody at home, ‘when is a woman in her prime?’ It says twenties, thirties, and forties.”
And then he doubled down. “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,” he said. “She would not be in her prime according to Google or whatever it is.”
Lemon’s History of Sexist Comments
In Megyn’s view, there was only one way to interpret Lemon’s remarks. “I’m so irritated by this guy and, honestly, his misogyny – and I don’t use that word about a lot of people,” she said. “The absurdity of suggesting that a woman is past her prime when she is 51 years old like Nikki Haley.”
Like Harlow, Megyn was curious what Lemon meant by the term “prime” – though she doesn’t think the host pushed back enough. “The co-anchor had an instinct that this was offensive, but, frankly, wasn’t effective enough to actually shove it down his throat,” Megyn lamented. But even when Harlow tried to clarify if Lemon meant childbearing years, he wouldn’t take the bait. “He wouldn’t even sign on to that,” she said. “But just childbearing is not what determines whether a woman is in her prime. What an ancient, anachronistic, stupid way of evaluating a woman’s worth.”
This is not the first time Lemon has said something controversial about women on air. During an interview last year with S.E. Cupp, Lemon accused the commentator of having “mommy brain” after she tripped over her words. “No, you ass, that has nothing to do with her ‘mommy brain,’” Megyn said. “People forget their words, male and female.”
And then there were the rumors that Lemon reportedly “screamed” at his co-host Kaitlan Collins for interrupting him on-air. “It is part of the pattern, and it ties in with the allegations that have been made against him recently that he was screaming at his co-host Kaitlan Collins because she had the temerity to interrupt him and he was annoyed,” Megyn explained. “He doesn’t understand anything about women, about America, about ‘prime.’”
Lemon, for his part, is 56 years old. “I guess he’d be the first to tell you he’s still in his prime, but the internet says that we women, we’re well past our prime so we ‘bout to be put out to pasture,” Megyn said. “I’m sorry, this is absurd. I’ve had it with this guy.”
Women in Their Prime
“Just for kicks,” Megyn decided to put together a list of women over the age of 50 who seem to be doing pretty well for people who are supposedly past their prime. A few standouts:
- “Margaret Thatcher, she was 54 when she became Prime Minister of Great Britain,” Megyn noted.
- “Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House for the first time when she was 67 – past her prime,” she said. “Sorry, Nance.”
- “Kamala Harris was 55 when she became the vice president of the United States,” she added.
- “Ketjanji Brown Jackson is 52, newly placed on the U.S. Supreme Court,” Megyn shared. “While we’re on this subject of the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan was 50 when she was confirmed. Sonia Sotomayor, 55 when she was confirmed.”
- “Mary Barra, CEO of GM, was 53 when she took over that role,” she said. “She’s now 61, but ‘past her prime.’”
- “Suzanne Scott over at Fox News became CEO of Fox when she was 51,” Megyn remarked.
- “Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, she’s 54,” she noted.
- “And, by the way, what an insult to people like Dana Bash, who’s 51 and his colleague at CNN,” she added.
“The truth is, those women I just mentioned, most of them did have kids when they were in their twenties and thirties and forties and then they went on to achieve huge professional success after they did all the things that women are capable of doing – raising families, having babies, which only we can do,” Megyn explained. “And instead of getting credit for that, for doing it all and achieving huge career heights in their fifties, they get reduced to ‘you’re a nothing, you’re past your due date, you’re over.’”
Calling Lemon’s stance “blatant sexism,” Megyn said that this cannot be ignored. “Shame on him for doing this on the air and, frankly, those other women on set with him were pathetic and weak in calling him out,” she concluded. “He deserved a more robust response, and he deserves it now from colleagues at CNN, he deserves it from colleagues in the news industry, and the bosses at CNN.”
You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Geraghty and Dougherty by tuning in to episode 495 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.