CNN is facing mounting pressure to fire ‘clearly sexist’ Don Lemon, who was absent from Friday’s Morning Show, just 24 hours after apologizing for remarks about women over 40 being ‘past their prime’.
Lemon, 56, made those comments on Thursday’s show as he and his co-hosts discussed GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s suggestion that politicians 75 and older should face mental competency tests.
On Friday, Kaitlan Collins opened the show by saying their controversial co-host ‘has the day off’ as Poppy Harlow joked that she was going to ‘complain to bosses’ after going to the all-star NBA game in Utah.
Lemon was replaced for the day by Audie Cornish, as the show avoided acknowledging the comments he made the day before despite rising calls for him to be squeezed out.
Lemon also jumped on a call with CNN staffers on Friday morning to again apologize for what he said – saying it ‘came out wrong.’
It is not the first time in recent weeks that Lemon has found himself in hot water, with CNN boss Chris Licht reportedly coming under pressure to do something about the host’s behavior.
Licht told staff during a call on Friday that the remarks were ‘unacceptable and unfair and a huge distraction’, according to the Daily Beast.
Lemon ruffled more feathers after saying, ‘I’m going to continue to be who I am’ -with a senior CNN staffer rebutting, ‘this is great, but it’s our viewers who deserve an apology.’
He also cited his relationships with Dana Bash, Erin Burnett, Amy Entelis, and his mom and sister, according to TMZ.
A source added that there was mounting pressure for Lemon to be fired after his continual gaffes on the early-morning show.
They told DailyMail.com: ‘Don has been skating on thin ice for so long and many wanted him fired in December when he freaked out on Kaitlin Collins for no reason. She was in tears and it was so inappropriate.
‘Regardless of his political affiliation, his comments that Nikki Haley being past her prime were disgusting. Poppy was fuming, as she should be, and still is.
‘He is rude, self-righteous and clearly sexist. Nikki did the right thing by calling him out.
‘His apology meant nothing and there is so much pressure for him to be canned. It would be a shock if he wasn’t.’
Staffers after the call reportedly called Lemon ‘tone deaf’, with one saying it looked like he was giving himself a pat on the back for owning his mistake.
Lemon, who was only on the call for 90 seconds, said: ‘I’m sorry I don’t mean to hurt anyone. I did not mean to offend anyone.
‘What I said came out wrong and I wish I hadn’t said it. I believe women of any age can do anything they set their minds to. The people I am closest to in this organization are women.
‘When I make a mistake. I own it and I own this one as well. I understand why you are upset and disappointed.
‘I was trying to make the point that no one’s age should define their ambition or potential for success and I was saying those comments to Nikki Haley.’
CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment from DailyMail.com, but the hosts did reference that Lemon would be missing from the show on Thursday.
They said: ‘A special treat. Audie is going to be joining us tomorrow, Don’s going to be off, Poppy is going to be on assignment anchoring from Salt Lake City.’
However, the announcement came two hours after his initial comments during a 6.30am segment of the show – with Lemon laughing and telling Audie ‘this is a hot seat, I hope you can handle it.’
Collins was also quick to sing the praises of Cornish, her co-host for a day, by posting a picture of them together on her Instagram.
Harlow, Lemon and Collins had been discussing Haley’s proposal during a speech on Wednesday where she announced her run for president.
Lemon, who is five years older than Haley, 51, said the politician should tread lightly on the topic because ‘a woman is in their prime in 20s and 30s and maybe 40s.
Just because he is black and gay doesn’t give him any more rights! He is just a ugly person!
Looks like LE’Mon is on his way out. Or, maybe CNN could send him as a street reporter to Haiti or somewhere similar for the next 10 or 20 years.