After being dismissed for anti-Semitic comments, Cannon posted a lengthy and impassioned message criticizing his longtime employer.

By James Hibberd
July 15, 2020 at 04:33 PM EDT
Credit: Everett Collection

Nick Cannon posted a lengthy and impassioned message on his verified Facebook page Wednesday slamming his longtime employer ViacomCBS after the company fired him for failing "to acknowledge or apologize" for “hateful speech” and exposing “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories" on a podcast. The actor, host, and musician also issued an apology for his controversial comments after previously declining to do so.

Cannon was dismissed as the host of the company's long-running comedy improv show Wild 'N Out. In his post, Cannon described a history of working with the media conglomerate in various roles over the course of more than 20 years and suggested the company was discriminatory.

"Viacom ... is now on the wrong side of history," the 39-year-old Cannon wrote. "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." 

"[Viacom has] have been mistreating and robbing our community for years," Cannon added. "Underpaying talent on their biggest brands like Love & Hip Hop, all of BET programming and, of course, Wild 'N Out ... I believed that the corporation was becoming more progressive and willing to create helpful spaces and dialogue in these difficult and uncertain times of 2020. Instead, they chose to recently ban all advertisement that supported George Floyd and Breonna Taylor who we are all still seeking justice for ... Viacom’s goal to keep me from providing for my family and lineage will be foiled. They can try to kick me while I’m down or force me to kiss the master’s feet in public for shame and ridicule, but instead, I stand firm on my square with my fist in the air repeating my mantra, 'You can’t fire a Boss!'"

In regards to Cannon claiming that the company banned ads from supporting Black Lives Matter, he appeared to be referencing a Wall Street Journal story that reported how companies didn't want their ads running during shows that dealt with "sensitive" content. "Due to the comedic nature of the show we believe is in question, Revenge Prank, we didn’t want to be insensitive by placing ads for it next to important and serious topics, such as Black Lives Matter," a ViacomCBS spokesperson explained in a statement to EW. "This is standard practice we use with our media agency to ensure that our ads don't come across as tone-deaf or disrespectful."

Cannon also requested an apology from the company 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." 

Cannon came under fire for his June 30 comments made during his podcast and YouTube show, Cannon's Class. He was interviewing former Public Enemy member Richard “Professor Griff” Griffin, who was fired from the group for making anti-Semitic remarks in a 1989 interview with the Washington Post. 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.

The host, who also emcees Fox's The Masked Singerhad twice responded to the backlash but did not issue apologies in either message. "Are you forcing me to say the words ‘I’m sorry’?" he asked in an interview last week. "Are you making me bow down, ’cause then again, that would be perpetuating that same rhetoric that we’re trying to get away from."

ViacomCBS issued a statement in response: "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."

In the new Facebook post, Cannon did, however, apologize. "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." 

—Rachel Yang contributed to this report.

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