Sometimes controversy can be a good thing.
That seems to be the case at CNN This Morning following a week-long scandal involving Don Lemon and his comments that critics deemed “sexist.”
Since Lemon said former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is not “in her prime” — generating an avalanche of negative headlines — total viewership for CNN This Morning surged double digits on Wednesday, Feb. 22, the day Lemon returned from a brief break, TheWrap reports.
Citing Nielsen data, the entertainment news site said viewership on the morning show’s Feb. 22 episode drew 383,700 total viewers, marking an 18.2 percent increase from the previous Wednesday broadcast.
Lemon’s return also propelled CNN This Morning to an 11.2 percent increase in the coveted adults 25-54 demo this week compared to the week before.
Lemon has been under the microscope since he criticized Haley on the show’s Feb. 16 episode.
The CNN veteran angered some viewers while discussing Haley’s presidential campaign kickoff speech when the Republican White House hopeful called for “mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years old.”
Haley, 51, was essentially taking shots at President Joe Biden, who is 80, and former President Donald Trump, who is 76.
But Lemon told his two co-hosts — Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins — he had a problem with the politician’s comments.
“She says people, politicians are not in their prime,” he noted. “Nikki Haley is not in her prime, sorry. A woman is considered to be in her prime in her 20s, 30s and maybe her 40s.”
Lemon then cited Google as his source and said if you look it up on the search engine, a woman is considered in her prime between those ages.
“I’m just saying what the facts are. Google it,” he said.
Critics seized on his comments and accused Lemon of “sexism,” prompting him to apologize.
Reports quickly surfaced saying Lemon’s boss, CNN Chairman and CEO Chris Licht, called Lemon’s comments “upsetting.”
The Daily Beast later obtained a memo from Licht telling CNN staffers Lemon “has agreed to participate in formal training, as well as continuing to listen and learn.”