Nikki Haley calls CNN's Don Lemon a 'sexist middle-aged' anchor after comments about her not being in her prime

Last updated on February 16, 2023

Newly announced GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley on Thursday took aim at CNN anchor Don Lemon after he said she was no longer in her “prime.”

“To be clear, I am NOT calling for competency tests for Sexist middle-aged CNN anchors; only for people who make our laws and are 75+,” Haley wrote on Twitter.

Haley, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who is 51, used her candidacy announcement on Wednesday to call for competency tests for politicians over 75 years old, an apparent shot at her only declared opponent, 76-year-old Donald Trump, as well as President Joe Biden, who at 80 is the oldest person to hold the office.

Lemon on Thursday morning criticized her comments — and got personal.

“This whole talk about age makes me uncomfortable,” Lemon said to co-hosts Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins during the “CNN This Morningshow. “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. Sorry, when a woman is in their prime in 20s and 30s and maybe 40s.”

The comments received instant backlash on social media, and caused on-air tension. “Wait … prime for what?” Harlow, who is 41, asked.

“Don’t shoot the messenger, I’m just saying what the facts are,” Lemon responded. “Google it.”

Lemon took to Twitter to apologize for those comments Thursday afternoon, calling them “inartful and 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.”