Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition

CNN’s chair rebukes anchor Lemon for his comments on women


Don Lemon, the CNN morning show anchor, faced an internal rebuke from the chair of his own network Friday after his on-air comments about women and aging set off an uproar inside the cable news channel.

CNN Chair Chris Licht opened his daily 9 a.m. editorial call by saying that the remarks by Lemon, which were widely viewed as sexist and insensitiv­e, had left him “disappoint­ed.”

“His remarks were upsetting, unacceptab­le and unfair to his co-hosts, and ultimately a huge distractio­n to the great work of this organizati­on,” Licht told his staff, according to a recording of the call obtained by The New York Times.

It is unusual for a network chief to criticize a star anchor in such stark terms — but the situation involving Lemon and CNN’s struggling morning show is approachin­g a crisis point just months after its debut.

Lemon, a CNN veteran with a history of televised gaffes, roiled colleagues Thursday when he asserted on-air that Nikki Haley, the 51-year-old Republican presidenti­al candidate, “isn’t in her prime, sorry.”

“A woman is considered to be in her prime in her 20s and 30s and maybe 40s,” Lemon said, to the visible dismay of his “CNN This Morning” co-anchors Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins. He refused to back down after Harlow questioned his remarks, telling her to “look it up.”

On Friday, a far more contrite-sounding Lemon addressed the matter in a six-minute monologue to the CNN newsroom.

“I am sorry,” Lemon said. “I did not mean to hurt anyone. I did not mean to offend anyone.”

He added that “the people I’m closest to in this organizati­on are women,” citing a list of female colleagues including anchors Dana Bash and Erin Burnett.

Lemon was absent Friday from his program’s broadcast, although he had previously said he was scheduled to take the day off. He dialed into the Friday call from Miami. A CNN spokespers­on said Lemon had not been formally suspended.

“CNN This Morning” began in November as a signature project of Licht, a former morning show producer who took over the leadership of CNN last May. The show was supposed to be a statement of intent for Licht’s vision for the network.

Instead, it has been plagued by tensions on the air and off. The co-hosts have clashed and talked over one another during on-air exchanges, a far cry from the easy rapport that viewers have come to expect from morning TV. The original executive producer has already been replaced.

GOP Afghan inquiry: Several Biden Cabinet members, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, received a letter Friday from House Republican­s as they launched the second investigat­ion into the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanista­n.

Rep. James Comer, RKy., the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, sent a series of letters to senior leadership at the White House, Department of Defense, State Department and others requesting a tranche of documents related to the end of America’s longest war.

Republican­s have been vowing to press President Joe Biden’s administra­tion on what went wrong as the Taliban swept to power in Afghanista­n in August 2021 and the U.S. left scores of Americans and thousands of Afghans who helped them over the years in grave danger.

Now with the power of the gavel, GOP lawmakers are elevating that criticism into aggressive congressio­nal oversight, and on a topic that has been met with bipartisan support in the past.

Miss. shootings: Six people were fatally shot Friday at multiple locations in a small town in rural Mississipp­i near the Tennessee state line, and authoritie­s blamed a lone suspect who was arrested and charged with murder.

Tate County Sheriff Brad Lance told local news outlets the killings in Arkabutla occurred at a convenienc­e store and two homes.

Richard Dale Crum, 52, was booked on one count of capital murder, said Katherine King, an administra­tive employee at the sheriff’s department. She said Crum was being held without bond and investigat­ors could file further charges.

Arkabutla is home to 285 residents, according to the 2020 Census.

BBC accused: India’s Finance Ministry accused the BBC of tax evasion Friday, saying that it had not fully declared its income and profits from its operations in the country.

Indian tax authoritie­s ended three days of searches of the British broadcaste­r’s New Delhi and Mumbai offices on Thursday night. Opposition political parties and other media organizati­ons have criticized the searches as an attempt to intimidate the media.

Critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have also questioned the timing of the searches, which came weeks after the BBC aired a documentar­y in the U.K. that was critical of Modi.

The documentar­y, “India: The Modi Question,” was broadcast in the U.K. last month, examining the prime minister’s role in 2002 anti-Muslim riots in the western state of Gujarat, where he was chief minister at the time. More than 1,000 people were killed in the violence.

Calif. shooting plea: A farmworker charged with killing seven people last month in back-to-back shootings at two Northern California mushroom farms pleaded not guilty Thursday.

Chunli Zhao, 66, is charged with seven counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.

Prosecutor­s said that on Jan. 23 he opened fire at the Half Moon Bay mushroom farm where he worked, killing four co-workers and wounding another one. They said he then drove to a mushroom farm he was fired from in 2015 and shot to death three former co-workers.

Zhao admitted to the shootings during a jailhouse media interview days after the shooting. Zhao told KNTV-TV he was bullied and worked long hours on the farms and that his complaints were ignored.

Cyclone fatalities: The death toll from New Zealand’s cyclone reached eight Friday with more than 4,500 people still unaccounte­d for four days after the nation’s most destructiv­e weather event in decades brought widespread flooding, landslides and power outages, the prime minister said.

Cyclone Gabrielle struck the country’s north on Monday and the level of damage has been compared to that inflicted by Cyclone Bola in 1988. That storm was the most destructiv­e on record to hit the nation of 5 million people.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said three more fatalities had been confirmed since Thursday and police held “grave fears” for those still missing.

 ?? BRUNA PRADO/AP ?? Key figure: Carnival King Momo, Djferson Mendes da Silva, holds the key to the city Friday at the official start of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Some 46 million people across Brazil are expected to join the festivitie­s, which continue into next week.
BRUNA PRADO/AP Key figure: Carnival King Momo, Djferson Mendes da Silva, holds the key to the city Friday at the official start of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Some 46 million people across Brazil are expected to join the festivitie­s, which continue into next week.

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