Entertainment

Recording reveals Sharon Osbourne’s distress after racism exchange that got her fired


Elaine Welteroth fully supported Sharon Osbourne, her fellow panelist on “The Talk,” and said she also felt “set up” by producers in search of ratings as Osbourne dissolved in tears after the harsh exchange that led to Osbourne’s firing earlier this year.

The new revelation comes courtesy of audio obtained by the Daily Mail of a conversation that took place March 10 between the two women and included Sharon’s son, Jack, and an unnamed makeup artist. That was the day after Osbourne defended friend Piers Morgan for not believing statements the former Meghan Markle made in the interview she did with Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey.

It was also the day Osbourne and Sheryl Underwood had a tense, on-camera exchange that wound up with Osbourne, who is white, lashing out at Underwood and asking her Black cohost to “educate” her as to what exactly Morgan had said that was racist.

CBS put “The Talk” on an extended hiatus to deal with the situation. On March 26, Osbourne was fired from the show she had been on since its 2010 debut. This week, guest panelist Jerry O’Connell was announced as Osbourne’s permanent replacement.

In the March 10 recording made public Wednesday afternoon — and it’s unclear who recorded it — Welteroth tries to comfort Osbourne, who seems nearly in hysterics.

Osbourne says she was told by producers just four minutes before the televised conversation that some people might not agree with her opinion about Morgan’s stance and was asked if she would be OK talking about it. She said sure.

“I never thought it was gonna be … that,” Osbourne says. “Because … whatever you say, you just look guilty. And now everybody’s gonna have that little seed of doubt: ‘Well you know, maybe she’s a bit racist.’ … These people here, that run this, have no ethics. They don’t care. They just want numbers, numbers, numbers.”

Welteroth tells Osbourne that Underwood is still Osbourne’s friend who loves and respects her and wasn’t trying to attack her.

“Here’s the thing that I just want you to just know,” says Welteroth, who is Black. “Sheryl and I are held to a different standard by Black people and people of color out there who expect us to say something about every racist anything … and it puts us in such a f— up position. That even if we don’t have the information, if we don’t even really care, if we don’t really wanna engage, it feels like there’s a spotlight on us, you know?”

Osbourne, who had apparently spent the night before fielding attacks on Twitter over her defense of Morgan, replies, “Now I feel the big picture. I know what happened. I know what happened … they set me up. CBS set me up. And they don’t care because they just want ratings. They don’t care. They don’t care that I will now have to go around and people think I’m racist. They don’t give a s—. They just want ratings. That’s all.”

Welteroth goes on to say, “It felt like we were all set up — particularly you — but I also felt set up because I was like sitting there and Sheryl goes, ‘What would you like to say?’ I’m like … what the f—? I don’t have nothing to say. Why are we having this conversation right now?”

She wonders why they were even discussing things on the show that hadn’t been said on the show but rather on social media.

“There’s this pressure to demonstrate how to talk about this stuff, but we haven’t ever been guided on how to f— do this,” Welteroth says. “I’m not a D&I [diversity and inclusion] expert. I didn’t know I was gonna come on here and be the — I don’t know how to do that, actually.”

Osbourne responds with a touch of humor, saying, “No! Neither do I, I’m just a f— old woman [background laughter] that has a lot of stories. I don’t f— care if you’re an alien. Are you a nice alien? Then come sit down.”

Representatives for Welteroth, Osbourne and “The Talk” did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The initial discussion about Morgan happened March 9 after the former “Good Morning Britain” host walked off his show permanently after a discussion about Meghan’s claims to Winfrey that there was racism in the royal family, which Morgan didn’t believe.

“You fight for your queen and your country, and he’s a royalist,” Osbourne said. “I think he is hurt by Meghan, terribly. That’s why he won’t drop it. It’s a personal thing for him.”

On the March 10 show, Underwood asked Osbourne what she had to say to those who said the former “America’s Got Talent” judge was providing cover for a racist. Osbourne declared that neither she nor Morgan is a racist, and the conversation went sideways.

“I feel even like I’m about to be put in the electric chair because I have a friend who many people think is a racist, so that makes me a racist,” Osbourne said on air. She dropped an F-bomb aimed at her cohost as the show went to commercial break and told Underwood not to cry during their exchange, saying if anyone should be crying it should be her.

“It’s not the exact words of racism,” Underwood explained. “It’s the implication and the reaction to it. To not want to address that because [Meghan] is a Black woman and to try to dismiss it or to make it seem less than what it is, that’s what makes it racist,” Underwood said, adding that she didn’t want anyone to think the panel was attacking Osbourne for being racist.

Osbourne apologized publicly via social media March 11, saying she had “panicked, felt blindsided” during the segment. Underwood, meanwhile, moved on with a “forgiveness first” attitude. Still, there was disagreement about whether Osbourne had reached out personally to Underwood to say she was sorry.

“The events of the March 10 broadcast were upsetting to everyone involved, including the audience watching at home,” CBS said in a statement March 26. “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.”

“The Talk” came back in April with an episode where cohosts Underwood, Welteroth, Amanda Kloots and Carrie Ann Inaba engaged with a diversity and inclusion expert. Inaba announced a couple of weeks later that she would be taking a leave of absence from the show to focus on her health.




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