CNN host Don Lemon, 56, returned to the air Wednesday, six days after his comment about presidential candidate Nikki Haley, 51.
“Nikki Haley isn’t in her prime. Sorry! A woman is in their prime in her 20s and 30s and maybe 40s,” Lemon said last week, before apologizing.
But has Lemon already contributed to irreversible infighting within the network?
Sponsored: [STUDY] Improve Breathing by 57%?
After Lemon’s remark, two female co-hosts stormed off set for a “well-timed” bathroom break, according to reporting obtained by RadarOnline.com.
One person told the Daily Mail that female staffers were threatening to resign upon Lemon’s return. Another person disputed this.
One insider told Page Six that the network began its infighting last year. The insider distinguished between the devotees of former CEO Jeff Zucker and the fans of current CEO Chris Licht.
The insider mentioned “disgruntled pro-Zucker” staffers on Lemon’s side, while describing another portion of the staff as “pro-Licht.”
Zucker resigned as CEO last year amid a sex scandal. He had failed to disclose a relationship with chief spokesperson Allison Gollust.
But Zucker has secured the loyalty of some staffers. He was even trying to buy the network after his ouster, according to a rumor reported by the NY Post.
Another insider told Page Six, “Chris Licht has put all his apples in this cart with Don and the morning show. It has to work… What does a future look like at this network with a show that is past the point of growing pains?”
“They don’t like his vision,” a third source told the paper, referring to Licht. “He’s not Jeff. People trusted Jeff.”
“The uncertainty, the absolute poor choices in the morning, and other issues have given rise to the voices of the Zucker-ites,” a fourth said, attributing the network’s woes to the investment in morning shows. “Jeff had a specific plan and approach through his tenure… that made sense to people. He knew who fit well in what times slots, and frankly who didn’t.”
Sponsored: This common fruit could help support blood pressure (not what you think)
The same source went on to bemoan the long-running awkwardness between Lemon and his co-hosts: Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins.
Earlier this month, one viewer tweeted a supercut of two hosts interrupting each other. It’s painful to watch.
Lemon may have worsened the already awkward chemistry on the set. On his first day back, Lemon was discussing a new drink mixing coffee with olive oil, before mentioning new study regarding poppy seeds. He used the opportunity to crack a fat joke about his co-host.
It’s no wonder that CNN has seen its ratings fall off a cliff.
Elsewhere on the show, Collins looked unamused.
Take a look —
@donlemon Here's Don on his first day back, after being suspended for misogynistic statements that pissed off his cohosts, and pretty much all women in America. Sounds like he was subtly fat shaming @PoppyHarlowCNN pic.twitter.com/CsnPh3rbko
— JackRyanWon (@JackRyanWon1) February 22, 2023
Watch: @donlemon just made his return to CNN after those controversial comments about Nikki Haley being past her prime. He tweets: “To my network, my colleagues and our incredible audience — I’m sorry. I’ve heard you, I’m learning from you, and I’m committed to doing better.” pic.twitter.com/jumgcymFh2
— TV News Now (@TVNewsNow) February 22, 2023
Awkward. Supercut by @CurtisHouck of Don Lemon and Kaitlan Collins interrupting each other on just one broadcast of CNN This Morning. pic.twitter.com/8hw23vFtsT
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) February 6, 2023
The Horn editorial team