Ellen DeGeneres is encountering fresh criticism after delivering an on-air apology to viewers for the allegedly toxic work environment on her show, which staffers found to be “tactical” and “tone deaf.”
The new season of the host’s daytime talk show began Monday with a monologue that was laced with what employees deemed as “inappropriate jokes” as she apologized for what happened on the show, but maintained her ignorance to the misconduct, and pivoted to do damage control for her image.
Current and former employees reacted negatively to DeGeneres’ public address. A former staffer told Buzzfeed, “Not only did Ellen turn my trauma, turn our traumas, into a joke, she somehow managed to make this about her.”
The host addressed the scandal with a sarcastic quip. “‘How was everybody’s summer? Good, yeah? Mine was great. Super terrific.” A former employee didn’t react well to the joke. “When she said, ‘Oh my summer was great’ and that was supposed to be funny I thought, ‘It’s funny that you had a rough summer because everyone was calling out all of the allegations of your toxic work environment and now you’re the one suffering?’”
When addressing the internal investigation surrounding staffer’s toxic work environment claims, she took responsibility as the leader of the show, but claimed a lack of knowledge of the misconduct.
“I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected,” she continued. “I know that I am in a position of privilege and power and I realize that with that comes responsibility and I take responsibility for what happens at my show.”
One current employee was shocked to hear DeGeneres openly discuss the toxicity, which has long been a set secret, but didn’t trust in the sincerity of her delivery. “Whether or not I believe in this message that she is saying is another issue.”
The daytime host also steered the address towards her image, “being known as the be kind lady is a tricky position to be in,” she said. “Let me give you some advice out there, if anybody is thinking of changing their title or giving yourself a nickname, do not go with the ‘be kind lady’. Don’t do it.”
A former staffer rebutted, “There’s nothing wrong with being the ‘be kind lady’ if you’re actually true to your word.”
She also tried to assure viewers that she is actually the person she portrays herself to be on the show, but is also a frustrated and impatient person. “I’ve played a straight woman in movies so I’m a pretty good actress but I don’t think that I’m that good that I could come out here every day for 17 years and fool you.”
A current employee described the DeGeneres’ address to the viewers as a “tactical,” ratings driven move. “The average person will listen to it and make their own choices, but what people don’t always take into account is that information is power, and she’s sharing it now because it’s for premiere week and it’s to get viewers back, and that just feels the opposite of what this message is about.”
Instead of signing off with the show’s “be kind” motto, DeGeneres told viewers to, “Feel this love and I’m giving it back to you, and spread that in the world. Spread that, not other things, just the good stuff is what we should spread.”