Fox to keep Nick Cannon as Masked Singer host: 'He is remorseful'
Despite Cannon's anti-Semitic comments on a recent podcast – and ViacomCBS firing him from his improv show Wild 'N Out – the broadcast network has elected to keep the entertainer as the host as its hit reality competition series, which is moving into its fourth season.
"When we were made aware of Nick Cannon’s interview with Richard Griffin on YouTube, we immediately began a dialogue with Nick," Fox said in a statement obtained by EW. "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 also issued a statement: "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."
"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," Cannon continued. "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 decision caps a roller-coaster day for the 39-year-old. News broke early Wednesday that Cannon was axed from Wild 'N Out, and then he posted a lengthy statement on Facebook slamming ViacomCBS for the decision. "Viacom ... is now on the wrong side of history," Cannon wrote of the company he's partnered with for more than two decades in various roles. "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. I will not be bullied, silenced, or continuously oppressed by any organization, group, or corporation. I am disappointed that Viacom does not understand or respect the power of the black community ...I honestly can’t believe that Viacom has such poor council that would allow them to make such a divisive decision in the midst of protests and civil uprising within our current pandemic. Truly an unwise decision."
Cannon also requested an apology from ViacomCBS as well as "full ownership of my billion-dollar Wild ‘N Out brand that I created, and they will continue to misuse and destroy without my leadership ... an idea in which I self-financed out my own pocket and presented to MTV ... Based on trust and empty promises, my ownership was swindled away from me."
For its part, ViacomCBS said in 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. 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 came under fire due to comments he made during a June 30 episode of his podcast and YouTube show, Cannon's Class. Cannon interviewed former Public Enemy member Richard “Professor Griff” Griffin, who was fired from the group for making anti-Semitic remarks. During his interview with Griffin, Cannon referenced numerous conspiracy theories about Jewish people, like that Jewish "bloodlines ... control everything," while denying the comments were hateful. Cannon also praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan (the Southern Poverty Law Center designates 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 added. "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. 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."
According to USA Today, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, condemned the comments: “It’s not enough to say, ‘I’m not a racist, I’m not a bigot.' The statements he made are hurtful, and they’re false.”
Yet Cannon repeatedly refused to apologize for the comments until after he was dismissed from his ViacomCBS show, then he relented in his Facebook post.
"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," Cannon wrote. "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 ...l am excited to announce that I have been invited to Israel which is a lifelong dream where I will receive teachings, lessons and truth about the Jewish history ... Systemic racism is what this world was built on and was the subject in which I was attempting to highlight in the recent clips that have been circulating from my podcast. If I have furthered the hate speech, I wholeheartedly apologize."