An executive at ViacomCBS gave updates about the company’s relationship with Nick Cannon after they severed ties with him over anti-Semitic comments.
According to Variety, Chris McCarthy, president of entertainment and youth brands at ViacomCBS, gave updates at a town hall with employees on Monday. He commended Cannon on the work he’s done to make amends for his comments and to obtain a better understanding of why they were offensive. He said he was “hopeful” that the company and Cannon would work out a way to rebuild their partnership.
A ViacomCBS source told Variety that McCarthy and Cannon have talked to each other in recent weeks but as of now, no plans are confirmed for Cannon to work with the company again.
“I struggle with the fact that Nick, a longtime partner and friend of ours, is on this journey and we’re not part of that journey,” McCarthy explained in response to a question about Cannon. He later added that he hopes the media company can connect storytelling with important social issues. “I am hopeful we find a way to bring these two things together and hopefully we will have the opportunity to do that with Nick again.”
In a June episode of Cannon’s podcast “Cannon’s Class,” the entertainer said that Black people are “the true Hebrews” and referenced anti-Semitic conspiracy theories involving “Zionists” and the Rothschild family. “It’s never hate speech, you can’t be anti-Semitic when we are the Semitic people,” Cannon said. “When we are the same people who they want to be. That’s our birthright. We are the true Hebrews.”
The comments caused public outrage and a decision by ViacomCBS to cut ties with Cannon, who’s created and hosted the long-running MTV comedy show “Wild ‘N Out”. He’s also a longtime creative partner of the company’s Nickelodeon kids’ programming division.
Cannon initially resented ViacomCBS’ firing, demanding an apology from the company and full ownership of “Wild ‘N Out.” He asserted, “I will not be bullied, silenced, or continuously oppressed by any organization, group, or corporation.” However, not too long afterwards, Cannon issued a statement giving his “deepest and most sincere apologies to my Jewish sisters and brothers for the hurtful and divisive words that came out of my mouth.”
Cannon has since been speaking with the Jewish community and he hosted Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center on his podcast. He also appeared in an hour-long video interview hosted by the American Jewish Committee and conducted by Rabbi Noam E. Marans, who penned in a column for the Jerusalem Post that Cannon “understands why his words were blatantly antisemitic and has begun the process of undoing the damage he has caused.”
McCarthy said on Monday that he regrets not developing the entertainment and youth group’s recently unveiled “culture code” at the time of Cannon’s comments. The code is a set of guidelines pertaining to diversity and inclusion. “It’s a shame that it took an incident like this for us to take a step back and have a clear process in place to address issues like this,” McCarthy said.
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