TV veteran Sharon Osbourne is leaving the CBS daytime talk show, The Talk following a recent controversy that erupted on set over racism.
According to Christie D’Zurilla of the Los Angeles Times, the situation began on March 10 during an “explosive conversation between the co-hosts [that] was sparked by Osbourne’s defense a day earlier of [UK TV personality] Piers Morgan, who was accused of racism for his failure to believe certain comments Meghan Markle made in her recent interview with Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey.”
“I feel even like I’m about to be put in the electric chair because I have a friend who many people think is a racist, so that makes me a racist,” Osbourne said on the March 10 episode, directing the brunt of her anger against her co-host Sheryl Underwood, who is Black. Osbourne then claimed that she was not a racist and asked Underwood “for an education” about what he’d said that was racist.
In a statement following news of Osbourne’s departure from the network, CBS said, “The events of the March 10 broadcast were upsetting to everyone involved, including the audience watching at home. As part of our review, we concluded that Sharon’s behavior toward her co-hosts during the March 10 episode did not align with our values for a respectful workplace. We also did not find any evidence that CBS executives orchestrated the discussion or blindsided any of the hosts.”
D’Zurilla reported that “the network acknowledged that ‘Network and Studio teams, as well as the showrunners’, were accountable for what happened during an intense exchange between Osbourne and fellow panelist Sheryl Underwood, noting that it was clear the co-hosts were not properly prepared for the moment.”
In a tweet on March 11, Osbourne apologized for her behavior, saying, “to anyone of color that I offended and/or to anyone that feels confused or let down by what I said, I am truly sorry. I panicked, felt blindsided, got defensive and allowed my fear and horror of being accused of being racist [to] take over.”
But there may have been more at play in Osbourne’s departure than just the exchange with Underwood.
Nicki Gostin and Carlos Greer of Page Six reported that “the internal investigation was kicked off when host Elaine Welteroth and her hairstylist complained about an allegedly ‘racially insensitive and hostile environment’ on the show.”
The statement led to CBS launching a full probe into the matter. The network also released a memo affirming its commitment to a diverse, respectful and inclusive workplace and Gostin and Greer also reported that “Welteroth isn’t the only person of color to complain about working conditions at The Talk. Following Osbourne’s clash, Holly Robinson Peete — who co-hosted the talk show’s first season in 2010 — suggested that karma had come into play.”
“I’m old enough to remember when Sharon complained that I was too ‘ghetto’ for #TheTalk … then I was gone. I bring this up now [because] I was mortified watching the disrespectful condescending tone she took [with] her co-host who remained calm & respectful because … she HAD to,” Robinson Peete tweeted.
Osbourne was the last original panelist on The Talk, which debuted in 2010. Her TV career began 8 years earlier when she was featured on MTV’s reality show, The Osbournes, which revolved around her family’s daily life and helped to usher in the reality TV show era in the days before social media. Before that, she got her start as the manager of shock rocker Ozzy Osbourne, to whom she is still married.