While announcing that she was seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2024, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said that she would support “mental competency tests” for politicians over the age of 75. Haley is 51 and advocating for a new generation of leadership, making the comment a clear swipe at President Joe Biden (who, at 78 years and 61 days old, was the oldest president ever sworn in to office) and even fellow GOP hopeful Donald Trump (who would be pushing 79 by Inauguration Day in January 2025).
For whatever reason, Haley’s proposition didn’t sit well with CNN This Morning co-host Don Lemon. “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 Halow, 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.”
After the remarks, Lemon was absent from the show the rest of the week. CNN claimed the time off was pre-planned (he was photographed frolicking in South Beach), but Lemon was reportedly forced to apologize to staff in a conference call and agree to undergo “formal training.” During a town hall event, CNN CEO Chris Licht allegedly said that if saying “stupid things” becomes a trend for Lemon, then there will be “recourse.”
Megyn already offered Licht her thoughts on what Lemon’s “formal training” – or, as she likes to call it, “reeducation camp” – should look like, but she remained unimpressed with CNN’s response to the blatant misogyny displayed by the anchor. On Tuesday’s show, Megyn did not hold back while speaking with her executive producer and Uncovered author Steve Krakauer about the incident.
Why Hasn’t Don Lemon Be Fired?
There is a lot about the situation with Lemon that Megyn finds concerning, but Licht’s reported comments at the company town hall may take the cake given the state of the network. “[Lemon] spent years saying stupid things and, more importantly, offensive things to so many people including – I would imagine – CNN viewers,” Krakauer noted.
And then there is the fact that CNN is currently in the midst of a massive overhaul under Licht’s new leadership. “I would be surprised if there’s a long-term plan where Don Lemon is the star of the morning show for CNN or the star of any element of CNN,” Krakauer noted. “He seems so representative of what they’re trying to get out of now… and the ratings are horrible for the morning show.”
As he explained, Lemon is “only making news in the most negative ways possible,” and it’s at the expense of his co-hosts. “He’s bringing down two, I would say, pretty good journalists in Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow,” he said. “What is the point of it?”
While Megyn hasn’t necessarily agreed with how Collins and Harlow have handled some of the situations involving Lemon, she agrees that they show promise. “I’ve been critical of some of how Poppy and Kaitlan have handled this, but I like them and I do think they have potential,” she shared. “I think they’re solid in terms of they’re earnest and I think, given the chance, they will develop into strong morning hosts or at least anchors.”
Lemon, meanwhile, seems like a lost cause. “I can’t imagine it’s a long-term fit,” Krakauer added.
Do Women Matter?
With that in mind, Megyn could not understand why Licht and the CNN brass seem intent on keeping Lemon around despite his pattern of sexist and misogynistic behavior. “Here’s a question I have for [Licht],” she said. “Do women matter? Do we matter?”
As she explained, behavior doesn’t have to rise to the level of sexual harassment to be a firable offense. “It shouldn’t have to be that you were raped by a man, or 21 women come forward alleging that they’ve been sexually harassed by a man, or they’ve been inappropriately touched by a man for their offense to matter because we’ve seen person after person get fired because they caused offense – mere offense – when it comes to race, when it comes to sexual orientation, when it comes to gender identity,” she said. “Does women’s offense matter?”
Lemon’s “prime” comments are unique in that they have united people from all sides of the political spectrum. “This guy managed to piss off half the country,” she said. “It’s not left or right; it’s male or female – and, by the way, a lot of men are with us. You don’t have to be a #MeToo supporter to be irritated and offended by what Don Lemon said.” With everyone from Janice Dean and Maureen Callahan to Anna Quindlen and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaking out against Lemon, Megyn said it’s clear that the situation “is not a left and right issue.” Instead, “this is about decency,” she noted.
Stating that Lemon’s supposed training is a “farce” and “lie,” Megyn said that Licht and others continuing to tolerate his behavior “makes them part of the problem.” She let her audience know that her team tried reaching out to CNN about any history of personnel problems related to Lemon but did not hear back. “You don’t want a handout for personnel files – I get it, but you’re not gonna be able to avoid it forever,” she said. “Chris Licht, I know you’re new, but… before you give him another pass, why don’t you satisfy yourself that there isn’t a history?”
Ultimately, Megyn says everyone involved in the situation deserves that clarity. “That you owe to his female colleagues, and the other women at CNN, and the audience for that matter,” she concluded.
You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Krakauer by tuning in to episode 497 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.