Ellen DeGeneres has apologized and said she takes responsibility for the accusations of a toxic workplace at her show that resulted in the departures of three executive producers after an investigation.
DeGeneres addresses the controversy in the opening monologue of her season 18 premiere on Monday after a summer hiatus that included an internal investigation following a July 16 BuzzFeed story that featured one current employee and 10 former staffers who claimed they endured a culture of racism, fear and intimidation while working for the show.
“As you may have heard, 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’ve happened. I take that very seriously, and I want to say that I’m so sorry to the people who were affected.
“I know that I’m in a position of privilege and power, and I realize that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show.
“We have had a lot of conversations over the last few weeks about the show, our workplace and what we want for the future. We have made the necessary changes and today we are starting a new chapter.”
DeGeneres delivered the monologue in front of a virtual audience in her return to the Warner Bros. lot to do her show in its studio.
DeGeneres also spoke about the backlash in articles and on social media that claimed her television persona of spreading kindness is not the way she is when the cameras are turned off.
“The biggest common thread that everyone told me is that what goes on behind the scenes is a far cry from what the show represents in their ‘be kind’ messaging and what the show and what Ellen DeGeneres herself profits off of,” BuzzFeed entertainment editor Krystie Yandoli previously told TODAY.
“There also were articles in the press and on social media that said that I am not who I appear to be on TV because I became know as the ‘be-kind lady,'” DeGeneres said in her monologue.
She said she started using that slogan when Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi died by suicide in 2010 after being bullied for being gay because she “thought the world needed more kindness.”
“The truth is I am that person that you see on TV,” she said. “I also am a lot of other things. Sometimes I get sad, I get mad, I get anxious, I get frustrated, I get impatient, and I am working on all of that. I am a work in progress.”
“But I don’t think that I’m that good (of an actress) that I could come out here every day for 17 years and fool you,” she said. “This is me, and my intention is to always be the best person I can be. And if I’ve ever let someone down, if I’ve ever hurt their feelings, I am so sorry for that.”
DeGeneres also announced that she promoted her former DJ, Stephen “tWitch” Boss, to co-executive producer of the show.
Her monologue marked her first public comments since executive producers Ed Glavin, Kevin Leman and Jonathan Norman parted ways with the daytime talk show last month following the investigation.
DeGeneres had addressed the BuzzFeed report in a memo to staff on July 30.
“On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ would be a place of happiness — no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect. Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case,” she wrote. “And for that, I am sorry. Anyone who knows me knows it’s the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show.”
DeGeneres said Monday that she wants “every single one” of her 270 staffers “to be happy and to be proud to work here.”
“My hope is that we can still be a place of happiness and joy,” she said. “I still want to be the one hour a day that people can go to escape and laugh. I’m committed to making this the best season that we have ever had.”