After being dropped by ViacomCBS for making anti-Semitic comments on his podcast, Nick Cannon has demanded an apology from the media giant, as well as full ownership of his show “Wild ‘N Out.”
In an extensive statement posted to Facebook on Wednesday morning, Cannon said that ViacomCBS was “on the wrong side of history” and accused the conglomerate of trying to “make an example of an outspoken black man.” He also mentioned an “outpouring of love and support from the Jewish community” in the wake of his firing.
“I must apologize to my Jewish Brothers and Sisters for putting them in such a painful position, which was never my intention, but I know this whole situation has hurt many people and together we will make it right,” Cannon wrote.
The controversy stemmed from a June 30 episode of Cannon’s podcast “Cannon’s Class,” during which he interviewed Professor Griff, a rapper who himself departed the rap group Public Enemy after making anti-Semitic comments in 1989. During the podcast, Cannon promoted conspiracy theories about the Rothschild family and argued that people of African descent are the “true Jews.”
“You can’t be anti-Semitic when we are the Semitic people,” he said.
As criticism over the episode mounted, Cannon declined to apologize for his comments, instead tweeting that “I have no hate in my heart nor malice intentions” and saying that “it is more important than ever to promote unity and understanding.”
“Wild ‘N Out,” a sketch show that Cannon created and currently hosts, has aired on ViacomCBS since 2005. Cannon has worked with the conglomerate since he was a teenager.
After his firing, Cannon retweeted dozens of messages from support from fans, many of which urged people to boycott ViacomCBS and questioned the fairness of his termination.
“I wish the police who killed Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, and many other innocent blacks were arrested as fast as ViacomCBS fired Nick Cannon,” one post said.
I wish the police who killed Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, and many other innocent blacks were arrested as fast as ViacomCBS fired Nick Cannon
We don’t care about a painted street saying BLM or the removal of MASTER with bedrooms
WE WANT JUSTICE!!!!— King Rhines (@Temperance84) July 15, 2020
In his Facebook statement, Cannon detailed his decades-long relationship with ViacomCBS, describing the contributions he made through the success of “Wild ‘N Out” and saying ownership of the show was “swindled” from him based on “trust and empty promises.”
He also accused the conglomerate of refusing to run advertisements in support of George Floyd or protests against police brutality. “I honestly can’t believe that Viacom has such poor council that would allow them to make such a divisive decision in the midst of protests and civil uprising within our current pandemic,” he said.
Furthermore, Cannon said he had reached out to Shari Redstone, the chair of ViacomCBS, to “apologize if I said anything that pained or hurt her or her community,” only to be met with silence.
In a statement to Variety, ViacomCBS contested Cannon’s account. “It is absolutely untrue that Nick Cannon reached out to the Chair of ViacomCBS,” a spokesperson said.
Cannon concluded his statement by saying he was in conversation with Jewish members of his team about “our two persecuted communities” and might visit Israel in the future.
“l am excited to announce that I have been invited to Israel which is a lifelong dream where I will receive teachings, lessons and truth about the Jewish history,” he wrote.
Irene Katz Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.