Thursday turned out to be a "good news/bad news" day for The Masked Singer host Nick Cannon. The bad news was the report earlier today that he would be missing the first few episodes of FOX's singing competition series after testing positive for COVID-19 (with Niecy Nash guest-hosting). The good news is that it looks like Cannon and ViacomCBS have kissed and made up after Cannon was fired last summer for what the media company labeled "hateful speech and…anti-Semitic conspiracy theories." On Thursday, ViacomCBS announced that it was back in business with Cannon and that production on the upcoming new seasons of VH1's Wild 'N Out will be starting soon. The media company says that Cannon apologized and has taken the necessary steps to prove that he understands and takes responsibility for his actions and comments. "I want to assure my Jewish friends, new and old, that this is only the beginning of my education—I am committed to deeper connections, more profound learning, and strengthening the bond between our two cultures today and every day going forward," said Cannon in a statement.
Shortly before FOX issued a statement in support of The Masked Singer host last summer, Cannon took to Twitter to extend an apology to the Jewish community (which you can read below). Following that, Cannon offered two additional tweets. In the first, Cannon references a conversation he "just had" with Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Director of Global Social Action at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. In the second, Cannon acknowledges he "used words & referenced literature I assumed to be factual" that he now realizes were "hateful propaganda and stereotypical rhetoric that pained another community" and urged all side to come together to "write a new chapter of healing":
"First and foremost I extend my deepest and most sincere apologies to my Jewish sisters and brothers for the hurtful and divisive words that came out of my mouth during my interview with Richard Griffin. They reinforced the worst stereotypes of a proud and magnificent people and I feel ashamed of the uninformed and naïve place that these words came from. The video of this interview has since been removed."
"While the Jewish experience encompasses more than 5,000 years and there is so much I have yet to learn, I have had at least a minor history lesson over the past few days and to say that it is eye-opening would be a vast understatement."
"I want to express my gratitude to the Rabbis, community leaders and institutions who reached out to me to help enlighten me, instead of chastising me. I want to assure my Jewish friends, new and old, that this is only the beginning of my education—I am committed to deeper connections, more profound learning and strengthening the bond between our two cultures today and every day going forward."
Here's a look at Cannon's previous post, where he claimed he was "swindled" out of his ownership of Wild 'n Out by ViacomCBS and demanded that the rights to the show be turned back over to him with an "apology" from the company. Cannon also alleged that ViacomCBS refused to run ads in support of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, saying that he "went as far to reach out to Ms. Shari Redstone, the owner of Viacom, to have a conversation of reconciliation and actually apologize if I said anything that pained or hurt her or her community. Dead Silence!"
That last claim was quickly denied by the company, with a ViacomCBS spokesperson providing a statement to Deadline Hollywood directly: "It is absolutely untrue that Nick Cannon reached out to the Chair of ViacomCBS." The company representative believes Cannon's accusations are based on a Wall Street Journal article from the past weekend, where a ViacomCBS spokesperson discussed ad placement: "Due to the comedic nature of the show we believe is in question 'Revenge Prank,' we didn't want to be insensitive by placing ads for it next to important and serious topics, such as Black Lives Matter. This is standard practice we use with our media agency to ensure that our ads don't come across as tone-deaf or disrespectful."
Cannon made his comments during a podcast episode of Cannon's Class when Cannon and guest former Public Enemy member Richard "Professor Griff" Griffin discussed the issue of race and racism in both historical contexts as well as in how they relate to today's environment. During their conversation, Cannon referenced the teachings of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan by saying that those with "lack of pigment" are "a little less" than those with skin pigment and have "a lack of compassion."
Cannon would continue with his "theory": "They're acting out of fear. They're acting out of low self-esteem. They're acting out of a deficiency. So therefore the only way they can act is evil. They have to rob, steal, rape and [unintelligible] in order to survive." Referring to Black people as the "true Hebrews," Cannon also went on to discuss anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about The Rothschilds, referencing "the bloodlines that control everything, even outside of America."
Here's the statement released by ViacomCBS at the time regarding their decision: "ViacomCBS condemns bigotry of any kind and we categorically denounce all forms of anti-Semitism. We have spoken with Nick Cannon about an episode of his podcast 'Cannon's Class' on YouTube, which promoted hateful speech and spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. While we support ongoing education and dialogue in the fight against bigotry, we are deeply troubled that Nick has failed to acknowledge or apologize for perpetuating anti-Semitism, and we are terminating our relationship with him. We are committed to doing better in our response to incidents of anti-Semitism, racism, and bigotry. ViacomCBS will have further announcements on our efforts to combat hate of all kinds."