Don Lemon returned to his morning show on Wednesday and did not issue an on-air apology following the backlash against him over his comment about Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley not being “in her prime.”
Lemon joined co-anchors Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins, and the trio proceeded with business as usual without mentioning the drama.
Before the show, the longtime CNN host tweeted about his return.
“I appreciate the opportunity to be back on [CNNThisMorning] today,” Lemon posted. “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.”
I appreciate the opportunity to be back on @CNNThisMorning today. 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.
— Don Lemon (@donlemon) February 22, 2023
The absence of some kind of on-air mea culpa from Lemon when he appeared on CNN is not how networks have handled similar backlash in recent years, according to Variety.
In 2017, Bill Maher upset viewers of “Real Time” when he used a racial slur in a joke during the program. He issued an apology, and when he returned to the show, he sat down with guests like Ice Cube and Michael Eric Dyson, the outlet reported.
In 2018, Megyn Kelly discussed on her NBC show whether people should wear blackface as part of a Halloween costume. She faced a backlash and apologized upon her return, and took part in a panel discussion with Roland Martin and Amy Holmes.
It is unclear just how secure Lemon’s spot at the network is. TMZ reported that sources with knowledge of the situation claim Lemon’s been told this was his final warning, one more insult of his co-hosts or creating a toxic environment, and he’s out. Past examples have included telling colleague S.E. Cupp that she was having “mommy brain” when she forgot her words during a segment.
CNN President Chris Licht told staffers in a letter Monday that Lemon had agreed to “participate in formal training,” Variety noted.
“We take this situation very seriously,” Licht shared. “It is important to me that CNN balances accountability with fostering a culture in which people can own, learn and grow from their mistakes.”