Sharon Osbourne has stepped down from her daytime talk show The Talk, following a contentious on-air conversation about race and charges of racist remarks that prompted a CBS internal probe.
Osbourne enraged her co-hosts on the show earlier this month when she defended Piers Morgan, who had previously attacked Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, before being sacked from Good Morning Britain.
Piers Morgan challenged Markle on her poor portrayal of life in the British royal family and the mentally anguish she alleged was a result. Morgan, a former CNN anchor, has refused to apologize, claiming his right to free speech and the freedom to criticize public people as justifications. Given Sharon Osbourne’s friendship with Morgan and her willingness to openly support his ideas on Twitter, that high-profile conflict rapidly spilled over into The Talk.
“The events of the March 10 broadcast were upsetting to everyone involved, including the audience watching at home,” CBS stated in a statement on Friday. “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.”
“At the same time, we acknowledge the Network and Studio teams, as well as the showrunners, are accountable for what happened during that broadcast,” the statement continued, “as it was clear the co-hosts were not properly prepared by the staff for a complex and sensitive discussion involving race.”
“During this week’s hiatus, we are coordinating workshops, listening sessions and training about equity, inclusion and cultural awareness for the hosts, producers and crew. Going forward, we are identifying plans to enhance the producing staff and producing procedures to better serve the hosts, the production and, ultimately, our viewers.”
The feud on The Talk erupted after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had an explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey, the American talk-show presenter.
The Suits alum and Duchess of Sussex informed the Queen of Talk in their sit-down that members of the royal family and household made racist slurs and ignored her mental health difficulties at the start of her and Prince Harry’s exit from royal life. “While you are standing by your friend, it appears that you are giving validation or safe haven to something that he has uttered that is racist,” Sheryl Underwood told Osbourne on The Talk. Osbourne reacted angrily to the statements, first in front of and then behind the camera.
Osbourne has apologized for the incident, stating on Twitter that she “panicked, felt blindsided, got defensive & allowed my fear & horror of being accused of being racist take over.”
Osbourne said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight last week that she had been “set up” as a “sacrificial lamb” and that The Talk’s producers had not adequately prepped her.
“I wish we could go on and have an adult conversation calmly and work it out but I don’t know whether we can,” she said.
Several former co-hosts have already spoken out about Osbourne’s on-set behavior, which includes the alleged use of racist and homophobic insults as well as acting behind the scenes to cause dissension among the hosts. Holly Robinson Peete, who was fired after the first season, said on Twitter that Osbourne once told her she was “too ghetto” for the program.
In an interview with writer Yashar Ali, former co-host Remini alleged that Osbourne had launched loaded insults to her in 2010 in regard to Asian-American Chen and openly gay Gilbert.
According to the report, Osbourne alluded to Sara Gilbert, a lesbian, by nicknames like “pussy licker” and “fish eater.” (Osbourne has vehemently disputed the allegations.)
Later on March 16, CBS responded by extending The Talk’s abrupt suspension to March 22, as an internal investigation launched on March 12 looked into what happened in recent days and years past. “Sharon is disappointed but unfazed and hardly surprised by the lies, the recasting of history, and the bitterness coming out at this moment,” Osbourne’s publicist said in a statement the same day. According to sources close to the daytime talker, Osbourne’s ensuing publicity blitz, which included an interview with Entertainment Tonight, “burned a lot of bridges.”
Osbourne was the final surviving original host of the CBS daytime talk show, having been a member of the roundtable from its inception in 2010. Carrie Ann Inaba, Sheryl Underwood, Amanda Kloots, and Elaine Welteroth are the current co-hosts.