Nick Cannon has talk show postponed, meets with rabbi after anti-Semitic comments
After announcing time away from his radio program, Nick Cannon has also had his upcoming talk show pushed back following his recent anti-Semitic remarks on his podcast.
According to a joint statement from Lionsgate and its syndication company Debmar-Mercury, Cannon's talk show will no longer debut this year. His show, titled "Nick Cannon," was scheduled to launch Oct. 5.
"After conversations with Nick, we do believe that his public comments don’t reflect his true feelings and his apology is heartfelt and sincere," the statement continued. "We want to continue the healing process as he meets with leaders of the Jewish community and engages in a dialogue with our distribution partners to hear their views."
The statement indicates that the companies are looking to air Cannon's show by fall 2021.
"We are standing by Nick in our hope that by fall 2021 he will be able to use his extraordinary talent and platform to entertain, enlighten and unite his audience on the 'Nick Cannon' talk show," the statement continued. "Lionsgate and Debmar-Mercury condemn anti-Semitism, racism and hate speech. It runs counter to everything we stand for."
On Thursday, Cannon wrote in a series of tweets that he has decided to step back from his radio program.
"Morning radio family," wrote Cannon, who hosts the Los Angeles-based show "Nick Cannon Mornings." "I have decided to take some time away from my radio show so I can commit myself to deeper, more thorough reflection and education."
He added that he'll be using the time to "establish an action plan towards real, impactful change and advocacy aimed at bringing people together."
On Friday, Cannon's tweets took on a more troubled tone.
"I hurt an entire community and it pained me to my core, I thought it couldn’t get any worse. Then I watched my own community turn on me and call me a sell-out for apologizing. Goodnight. Enjoy Earth," he wrote with a praying hands emoji and a heart.
In a follow-up tweet, he wrote, "Y’all can have this planet. I’m out!"
Cannon's apology came a day after ViacomCBS cut ties with the TV host, and was followed quickly by a supportive statement from Fox, which said it would keep him as host of "The Masked Singer."
"First and foremost I extend my deepest and most sincere apologies to my Jewish sisters and brothers for the hurtful and divisive words that came out of my mouth during my interview with Richard Griffin," Cannon tweeted Wednesday evening.
He continued: "They reinforced the worst stereotypes of a proud and magnificent people and I feel ashamed of the uninformed and naïve place that these words came from. The video of this interview has since been removed."
Cannon further said he wanted to "assure my Jewish friends, new and old, that this is only the beginning of my education—I am committed to deeper connections, more profound learning and strengthening the bond between our two cultures today and every day going forward."
It was an about-face for Cannon, who had hours previously stopped short of apologizing for a controversial discussion on his podcast with Richard "Professor Griff" Griffin, a former member of Public Enemy who was fired for making anti-Semitic remarks in 1989. During the discussion, Cannon promoted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and praised Louis Farrakhan.
Cannon, who created and hosted Viacom-owned VH1's sketch comedy series "Wild 'N Out," shared a lengthy statement to his Facebook account earlier Wednesday saying he was "deeply saddened" that the network refused to use this opportunity to "grow closer together and learn more about one another." He also demanded ownership of "Wild 'N Out."
Cannon, 39, has been partnered with Viacom for over two decades. "Wild ‘N Out" has aired on Viacom's MTV and VH1 since it debuted in 2005. Season 15 premiered in April 2020.
"Instead the moment was stolen and highjacked (sic) to make an example of an outspoken black man. I will not be bullied, silenced, or continuously oppressed by any organization, group, or corporation," a defensive Cannon wrote in the earlier Facebook post. "I am disappointed that Viacom does not understand or respect the power of the black community."
When ViacomCBS fired Cannon Tuesday, the network said in a statement to USA TODAY it "condemns bigotry of any kind and we categorically denounce all forms of anti-Semitism."
The statement continued: "While we support ongoing education and dialogue in the fight against bigotry, we are deeply troubled that Nick has failed to acknowledge or apologize for perpetuating anti-Semitism, and we are terminating our relationship with him."
Following his apology Wednesday, Fox affirmed Cannon would remain with "Masked Singer," saying in a statement, “He is clear and remorseful that his words were wrong and lacked both understanding and context, and inadvertently promoted hate. This was important for us to observe."
The statement continued: "Nick has sincerely apologized, and quickly taken steps to educate himself and make amends. On that basis and given a belief that this moment calls for dialogue, we will move forward with Nick and help him advance this important conversation, broadly. Fox condemns all forms of hate directed toward any community and we will combat bigotry of any kind.”
The Nick Cannon podcast that sparked the controversy
In a June episode of his "Cannon’s Class" podcast with Griffin, Cannon promoted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about the Rothschild family and "the bloodlines that control everything even outside of America." Cannon also praised Nation of Islam leader Farrakhan and his ideology. (The Southern Poverty Law Center recognizes Nation of Islam as a "hate group.")
"The people that don’t have (melanin) are – and I'm going to say this carefully – a little less,” Cannon said. "When they didn't have the power of the sun, it started to deteriorate them so then, they’re acting out of fear, they’re acting out of low self-esteem, they’re acting out of a deficiency.”
Cannon continued: "So, therefore, the only way that they can act is evil. They have to rob, steal, rape, kill in order to survive. So then, these people that didn’t have what we have – and when I say 'we,' I speak of the melanated people – they had to be savages. … They’re acting as animals so they’re the ones that are actually closer to animals. They’re the ones that are actually the true savages."
"The Masked Singer" host added that his statements aren't anti-Semitic because "Semitic people are Black people" and that Black people are the "true Hebrews."
"I do not condone hate speech nor the spread of hateful rhetoric. We are living in a time when it is more important than ever to promote unity and understanding," he wrote.
Cannon added: "The Black and Jewish communities have both faced enormous hatred, oppression persecution and prejudice for thousands of years and in many ways have and will continue to work together to overcome these obstacles."
However, Cannon did not apologize at the time.
"I am an advocate for people’s voices to be heard openly, fairly and candidly," he wrote. "In today’s conversation about anti-racism and social justice, I think we all - including myself - must continue educating one another and embrace uncomfortable conversations - it’s the only way we ALL get better. I encourage more healthy dialogue and welcome any experts, clergy, or spokespersons to any of my platforms to hold me accountable and correct me in any statement that I’ve made that has been projected as negative. Until then, I hold myself accountable for this moment and take full responsibility because My intentions are only to show that as a beautiful human species we have way more commonalities than differences."
Rabbi meets with Cannon after apology
The Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish leaders on Wednesday had condemned what they called “hurtful words” and anti-Semitic theories expressed by Cannon.
On Friday, a prominent rabbi who met with Cannon following his apology said the television host and producer is “genuinely concerned about the hurt” he caused by making anti-Semitic remarks, and they intend to work together to reject hate.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s associate dean, met with Cannon Thursday for a three-hour conversation at Cannon’s business headquarters in Burbank, Calif.
“He appears to be someone who’s genuine in his desire to make sure people understand his apology,” Cooper told The Associated Press.
“But also ... not to move forward saying, ‘OK, I have to go back to my regular things, thank you for helping to give me a lifeline after this terrible error.’ That wasn’t it. The thrust was: ’OK. Now, what do we do? How do we roll up our sleeves? What can we do together?'"
Cooper said that he’s confident that Cannon will use his wide-ranging social media presence to talk openly about mistakes, fight for social justice and reject messages of hate.
“It could have a very, very positive impact on young people” Cooper said.
Anti-Semitic violent attacks worldwide rose by 18% in 2019 compared with the previous year, according to a report published in April by Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary Jewry.
Contributing: Andrea Mandell, Charles Trepany, Associated Press