On Monday this week Ellen Degeneres apologised amid allegations of behind the scenes of her eponymous chat show and claims of a toxic workplace culture, but current and former employees have spoken out to criticise the apology, claiming that the monologue was tone deaf and that it made light of their trauma.
In July a Buzzfeed report carried claims of racism and intimidation on set among other workplace issues. Weeks after the report Ellen sent round a memo to staff apologising to show staffers and the news broke that the show was under internal investigation by WarnerMedia. Now, in the first episode of the show's new series Ellen opened with a monologue publicly addressing and apologising to people who were affected. However, according to a new Buzzfeed report many people weren't happy that she included jokes in the speech.
She opened by asking viewers, "How was everybody’s summer? Good, yeah? Mine was great. Super terrific," she commented sarcastically, before saying, "Let me give you some advice out there if anybody's thinking of changing their title or giving yourself a nickname, do not go with the 'be kind' lady. Don’t do it."
One former employee told Buzzfeed, "Not only did Ellen turn my trauma, turn our traumas, into a joke, she somehow managed to make this about her."
Another former staffer stated, "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?'."
One former employee felt that making jokes was inappropriate in light of the seriousness of the allegations, "When you’re talking about people who have accused her leadership of... sexual misconduct, I don’t think it’s appropriate to have jokes in the monologue."
One current employee also claimed that Degeneres' apology was simply tactical, designed to attract publicity.
"It’s always tactical," they claimed. "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."
Elsewhere in her opening monologue Degeneres took responsibility for the issues on the show saying, "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 explained. "I know that I'm in a position of privilege and power and I realised that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show."
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