Don Lemon remarked that male athletes make more money than female athletes because men’s sports make more money than women’s sports, which sparked a heated discussion between Lemon and his CNN co-anchors.
Infuriating his co-anchors Kaitlin Collins and Poppy Harlow, Lemon made his remarks during a “CNN This Morning” story on the salary discrepancy between the US men’s and US women’s national soccer teams. They contended that male athletes earn more because the media provides men’s sports a wider platform.
Lemon countered with the claim that because men’s sports are more in demand in our “capitalist system,” male athletes get more money despite his insistence that “I’m not a sexist.”
Harry Enten, a CNN data analyst, was in the process of explaining the wage differences between the two teams when the dispute started.
Lemon stated that the argument about whether women should be paid more was meaningless despite the fact that the US women’s national soccer team has achieved greater success than the men’s team in terms of games won and having won several world championships, something the men’s team has yet to do.
“I know everyone’s gonna hate me, but the men’s team makes more money. If they make more money then they should get more money.” The two female co-anchors tried to interrupt him. “The men’s team makes more money because people are more interested in the men!” he added.
The debate got heated between the hosts
Harlow attributed the declining popularity of women’s sports to “big media companies.” “I have big issue with this, guys, WNBA – same thing’s happening to them. Until big media companies, big tech companies, advertisers invest and put them on their airwaves more and allow people to see it more and gain more fans, then you will push towards more equality,” she said.
“But if they are blocked in so many ways and not invested in as much, they don’t even have a shot,” she added.
Lemon resisted giving in. He declared, “I’m not sexist. I grew up the only boy in a family of all women.” He then said to Harlow “I understand what you’re saying, but not everybody honestly has the same skill, not everybody has the same interest in the sport.”
“I think that women should be paid more, I really do, but if the men -” Collins interrupted him, saying, “You’re right that not everyone has the same skills cause the women are better skilled.”
“Well the women are better skilled against better other women, but if the women played the men, they wouldn’t be winning the way that they win,” Lemon replied. “I’m not even going to get into that argument,” ended a frustrated Harlow.