Don Lemon apologizes again before returning to CNN after Nikki Haley comments

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Don Lemon is apologizing again for his comments last week about Nikki Haley before returning to his seat on CNN "This Morning."

"I appreciate the opportunity to be back on @CNNThisMorning today," he tweeted early Wednesday, shortly before going back on air. "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. See you soon."

The TV host, 56, appeared on the show Wednesday for the first time since saying the presidential candidate was not "in her prime" during Thursday's episode last week. Lemon was gone Friday for a planned day off, then was also absent from the show Monday and Tuesday amid the backlash.

In his return Wednesday, he made no mention of the controversy and stuck to the news with stories like President Joe Biden’s trip to Ukraine, the Ohio train derailment and winter weather.

Don Lemon and Nikki Haley: What he said, the controversy explained

What did Don Lemon say about Nikki Haley?

Lemon's controversial comments came during a discussion Thursday with co-hosts Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins about Haley's presidential campaign announcement and her call for "mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years old."

Lemon said the "talk about age" makes him uncomfortable and said her comments were the "wrong road" to go down.

CNN anchors Kaitlan Collins, from left, Don Lemon and Poppy Harlow appear at the 16th annual CNN Heroes All-Star Tribute on Dec. 11, 2022, in New York.
CNN anchors Kaitlan Collins, from left, Don Lemon and Poppy Harlow appear at the 16th annual CNN Heroes All-Star Tribute on Dec. 11, 2022, in New York.

"She says people, politicians are not in their prime," he said. "Nikki Haley is not in her prime, sorry. A woman is considered to be in her prime in her 20s, 30s and maybe her 40s."

His co-host Harlow asked him to clarify what he meant by "prime" and if he was referring to "prime for childbearing" or "prime for being president."

Lemon responded: "If you Google, 'when is a woman in her prime,' it'll say 20s, 30s, and 40s. ... I'm not saying I agree with that so I think she has to be careful about saying that (politicians aren't in their prime)."

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What did Don Lemon say in his first apology?

Lemon first apologized on Thursday afternoon, calling his comments "irrelevant."

"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," Lemon wrote. "A woman’s age doesn't define her either personally or professionally. I have countless women in my life who prove that every day."

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How did CNN respond?

Lemon received formal training for his comments, network CEO Chris Licht said in an email to employees Monday night.

"I sat down with Don and had a frank and meaningful conversation," Licht wrote in a memo. "He has agreed to participate in formal training, as well as continuing to listen and learn. We take this situation very seriously," CNN Business reported.

According to The New York Times, Licht chastised Lemon during an editorial call Friday, saying his remarks were "upsetting, unacceptable and unfair" and a "huge distraction."

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Don Lemon back on CNN after Nikki Haley prime remarks, tweets apology