The Don Lemon scandal is not a scandal

On February 16, Don Lemon made some cavalier comments about Nikki Haley. Ar CNN In the morning, Lemon said of the former South Carolina governor and current Republican presidential candidate that she was “not over it.” He, Poppy Harlow, and Kaitlan Collins were discussing Haley’s recent suggestion, made at the campaign launch, that politicians over the age of 75 should undergo mandatory mental competency tests.

“This whole talk of age makes me uncomfortable,” Lemon continued CNN this morning. “I think it’s the wrong road to go down. She says that people are not, you know, politicians or something. Nikki Haley is not at her best, sadly. A woman in her early years is considered to be in her twenties and thirties and maybe forties.”

When challenged by his co-host, Lemon didn’t have a great response, instead prompting viewers to Google the topic. Chris Licht, who became chairman of CNN a year ago, was reportedly less than happy with the segment. According to The New York Times, Licht called Lemon’s comments “upsetting, unacceptable and unfair to his co-host, and ultimately detracted from the great work of this organization” during an editorial call the following morning. Lemon apologized, according to CNN’s newsroom The New York Timesthat he did not intend to hurt or offend anyone.

On Twitter, Lemon expressed regret for the remarks the same day he made them. “My reference to a female ‘prime’ this morning was irrelevant and inappropriate, as colleagues and family said, and I regret it,” he tweeted on February 16. “A woman’s age does not define her personally or professionally. I have a lot of women in my life who prove that every day.” Another message followed on February 22, when he returned to the air: “I appreciate the opportunity to be back on @CNNThisMorning today,” he wrote. “To my network, my colleagues and our incredible audience – I’m sorry. I heard you, I’m learning from you, and I’m committed to doing better. I’ll see you soon.”

According to an internal memo obtained by The Associated Press, Licht said he and Lemon had an “honest and meaningful conversation,” and that Lemon “agreed to participate in formal training.”

In other words: a TV anchor said something rude and, yes, sexist. He apologized. His network took action. This is an interesting little story – and yes, just a little interesting. There is a lemon, because The New York Times to put it right, “a CNN veteran with a history of TV gaffes.” Much of his professional life is spent talking on camera about various topics. Speak in public as much and as often as Lemon does, and the likelihood of saying something unfortunate increases statistically. I do not agree with what he said. I’m not that surprised that he said it.

Take a look at the top tweets about Lemon’s comments and you’ll see that they mostly came from Fox News and conservative figures. The fury on the right seemed … surprising, shall we say, from the side Donald “Grab Them By the P***y” Trump so often raised.

Then again, Lemon’s comments came around the same time Fox News was in the middle of a series of embarrassing revelations stemming from Dominion’s $1.6bn defamation lawsuit against the network. Is it any wonder, then, that someone at CNN – arch rival Fox News – expressed regret, angered Fox News, running segments and questioning Lemon’s future at CNN? No! He is not! It is the definition of predictable.

Anger is a powerful force – one that we can easily handle. I try to be economical about where I put mine. There is a difference between a scandal and a bit of network television news. Lemon’s comments are the latter, not the former.

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