Nick Cannon, host of Fox’s unscripted hit The Masked Singer, is remaining in that role following a series of apologies posted on Twitter, related to controversial comments made on his Cannon’s Class podcast.
Fox issued a statement attributed to the network which read: “When we were made aware of Nick Cannon’s interview with Richard Griffin on YouTube, we immediately began a dialogue with Nick. 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. 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.”
Cannon’s apology, posted Wednesday night (July 15) via his social media channels, stated: “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. 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.
“While the Jewish experience encompasses more than 5,000 years and there is so much I have yet to learn, I have had at least a minor history lesson over the past few days and to say that it is eye-opening would be a vast understatement,” he added. “I want to express my gratitude to the Rabbis, community leaders and institutions who reached out to me to help enlighten me, instead of chastising me. I want 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.”
The statements from both parties result from the controversy emerging following a recent episode of Cannon’s podcast, with network group ViacomCBS severing ties with the star on Tuesday (July 14) over comments made by Cannon during the episode that have been widely criticized as anti-Semitic and, in ViacomCBS’s words, “hateful speech.”
In the podcast episode, which was posted on YouTube in June but has since been taken down, Cannon and guest Richard Griffin, also known as Professor Griff and a former member of legendary hip hop group Public Enemy, discussed issues around race and racism. During the discussion, Cannon and Griffin cited comments from Louis Farrakhan, leader of Nation of Islam, and when discussing those with “lack of pigment”, Cannon said “I’m going to say this carefully … [they] are a little less.”
The discussion also turned to the nature of anti-Semitism, with those comments being the focus of Cannon’s apologies. Cannon and Griffin both echoed views that Black people are, in Cannon’s words, “the true Hebrews,” and also focused on an interview Griffin had with the Washington Times in 1989, in which concepts widely seen as anti-Semitic, such as Jewish ownership of media, were discussed by Griffin. Upon publication, the article prompted much controversy and the comments were roundly condemned by a variety of organizations.
In talking about the Washington Times interview and the resulting controversy in the podcast, Cannon referred to “the six corporations, when we go as deep as the Rothschilds, centralized banking, the 13 families, the bloodlines that control everything even outside of America.”
He added: “You can’t be anti-Semitic when we are the Semitic people, when we are the same people that who they want to be, that’s our birthright.”
Although the episode first ran in late June, it was brought into wider view via social media posts, prompting ViacomCBS to announce it was “terminating our relationship with him” via a statement.
“ViacomCBS condemns bigotry of any kind and we categorically denounce all forms of anti-Semitism. We have spoken with Nick Cannon about an episode of his podcast Cannon’s Class on YouTube, which promoted hateful speech and spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories,” the network group said.
“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.”
Cannon had a long-standing relationship with the network group, initially through Nickelodeon and TeenNick and then through MTV and VH1, where his long-running comedy improv series Wild ‘n Out was renewed in 2019 for three more seasons.
Cannon issued a statement shortly afterward, which read in part: “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.”
On Wednesday morning (July 15), however, Cannon released a lengthy post on Facebook, which read in part: “I am deeply saddened in a moment so close to reconciliation that the powers that be, misused an important moment for us to all grow closer together and learn more about one another. Instead the moment was stolen and highjacked to make an example of an outspoken black man.”
Cannon also apologized to the Jewish community within that post, adding: “I must apologize to my Jewish Brothers and Sisters for putting them in such a painful position, which was never my intention, but I know this whole situation has hurt many people and together we will make it right. I have dedicated my daily efforts to continuing conversations to bring the Jewish Community and the African American community closer together, embracing our differences and sharing our commonalities.”
Regarding the Wild ‘n Out situation, Cannon wrote: “I demand full ownership of my billion dollar Wild ‘N Out brand that I created, and they will continue to misuse and destroy without my leadership!”
Also on Wednesday, Sean “Diddy” Combs tweeted a message to Cannon, writing in part: “Come home to @REVOLTTV truly BLACK OWNED!!!”
A fourth season of Fox’s Masked Singer is currently set for the fall of this year.