Ellen DeGeneres: Toxic Workplace Claims Were ‘Orchestrated’ Per Host in First Interview After Announcing Show’s End

Ellen DeGeneres
Courtesy of YouTube

After announcing the end of her long-running daytime talk show, Ellen DeGeneres appeared on “Today” Thursday morning to discuss with Savannah Guthrie why she’s moving on, and how the toxic workplace reports impacted her decision.

“If it was why I was quitting, I would have not come back this year,” DeGeneres said. “I really did think about not coming back because it did…it was devastating. I am a kind person. I am a person who likes to make people happy. I just kept saying to wife Portia [de Rossi], ‘If I was a fan of somebody and even if I loved them, I would think there must be some truth to it, because it’s not stopping.’

Right on the heels of that, I read in the press that there’s a toxic work environment, which I had no idea, never saw anything that would even point to that.”

When Guthrie asked DeGeneres if she was being “cancelled,” the talk show host responded, “I really didn’t understand it. I still don’t understand it. It was too orchestrated. It was too coordinated. People get picked on, but for four months straight, for me, and then for me to read in the press about a toxic work environment, when all I’ve ever heard from every guest that comes on the show is what a happy atmosphere this is and what a happy place this is.”

Guthrie then asked about DeGeneres not knowing about the toxic work environment. “I don’t know how I could have known when there’s 255 employees here and there are a lot of different buildings, unless I literally stay here until the last person goes home at night,” she said. “It is my name on the show, so clearly it effects me and I have to be the one to stand up and say, ‘This can’t be tolerated.’ But I do wish someone would have come to me and said, ‘Hey, something’s going on that you should know about.’”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, DeGeneres hired an outside, non-union tech company to help her produce the show remotely from her home in California.

Back in April 2020 some employees who worked on production spoke up about the producers not communicating with them about their pay, working hours, or their mental and physical health. Nearly a month after no written communication, the majority of crew members were told to brace for 60% reduction in pay.

This wasn’t the last time employees would speak up about a harmful working environment on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” A July investigation by BuzzFeed News featured anonymous former employees speaking up about the racism, fear, and intimidation they face while working on the talk show.

This prompted a probe by WarnerMedia, which resulted in the removal of several top producers.

Promising to begin “a new chapter” on Sept. 21, DeGeneres addressed the allegations and apologized to the people that were affected.

“As you may have heard, this summer there were allegations of a toxic work environment at our show and then there was an investigation,” DeGeneres said. “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 that were affected. I know that I am in a position of privilege and power and with that comes responsibility and I take responsibility for what happens at my show.”