Demoted CNN host Don Lemon should know better than to talk about “prime time” by now.
Lemon, a onetime evening host relegated to mornings after a shakeup last year at the ratings-challenged cable news network, ticked off co-host Poppy Harlow when he tried to take a shot at Nikki Haley and ended up insulting women in general. The 51-year-old Haley, in announcing Tuesday she is running for president in 2024, said Americans must turn to a new generation of leaders and reject those past their “prime.”
“This whole talk about age makes me uncomfortable,” Lemon said. “I think it’s the wrong road to go down. She says people, you know, politicians are suddenly not in their prime. Nikki Haley isn’t in her prime,” Lemon said during the broadcast. “Sorry, when a woman is in their prime [is] in [their] 20s and 30s and maybe 40s…”
“What are you talking — Wait…,” Harlow quickly interjected.
“That’s not according to me,” Lemon scrambled. When asked to clarify what he meant by prime, the CNN host replied, “It depends. It’s just like, prime. If you look it up. If you Google when is a woman in her prime, it’ll say 20s, 30s, 40s…”
Lemon, who is 56, was discussing the subject of aging politicians being required to take competency tests, which has been a topic of discussion now that President Joe Biden is 80 and recently announced presidential hopeful Donald Trump is 76. Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and onetime U.N. ambassador, was clearly referring to their ages when she made her announcement formal a day later in Charleston, SC.
“America is not past our prime,” Haley said. “It’s just that our politicians are past theirs.”
Lemon spent much of the rest of the segment trying to dig himself out of a hole.
“I’m not saying I agree with that,” he insisted. “So I think she has to be careful about saying that, you know, politicians are in their prime.”
“Don’t shoot the messenger, I’m just saying what the facts are,” he continued. “Google it. Everybody at home, when is a woman in her prime? It says 20s, 30s and 40s. 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. She would not be in her prime according to Google or whatever it is.”
This is one of the most sexist things a “news host” has said in recent memory, but nothing will happen to Don Lemon, of course https://t.co/sog0BrrcpC
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 16, 2023
Haley served three terms in the South Carolina House of Representatives before being elected governor in 2010, making her the youngest governor in the country at the age of 38. The Constitution requires that any presidential candidate must be at least 35 years old but makes no stipulations for upper age limits.
In the same segment, Lemon attempted to backtrack, saying individual capacity was based on the individual.
He explained, “… My mom is 80 years old. I just gave her a surprise birthday party…Is she as physically strong as she once was? No. But mentally, she is sharp. Could she run the country? If she wanted to, I guess she could. But I guess it depends on the individual.”