Nick Cannon posted an apology message via Twitter on Wednesday after he received criticism for anti-Semitic language used in a recent podcast episode. He was dropped by ViacomCBS earlier this week after the podcast surfaced and received wide visibility.
"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," Cannon wrote. "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."
Cannon will remain as host of Fox's hit The Masked Singer, the network said Wednesday night.
"When we were made aware of Nick Cannon's interview with Richard Griffin on YouTube, we immediately began a dialogue with Nick," Fox said in a statement. "He is clear and remorseful that his words were wrong and lacked both understanding and context, and inadvertently promoted hate. This was important for us to observe. Nick has sincerely apologized, and quickly taken steps to educate himself and make amends. On that basis and given a belief that this moment calls for dialogue, we will move forward with Nick and help him advance this important conversation, broadly. Fox condemns all forms of hate directed toward any community and we will combat bigotry of any kind."
On Thursday, Cannon also said he would take a break from his morning radio show "so I can commit myself to deeper, more thorough reflection and education."
"I will use this time to establish an action plan towards real, impactful change and advocacy aimed at bringing people together," he wrote.
The controversy arose from an episode of the Cannon's Class podcast, which posted June 23 on podcast platforms and to YouTube on June 30. Cannon spoke with Richard Griffin, aka Professor Griff, a former member of rap group Public Enemy. Cannon called Black people "the true Hebrews" and discussed anti-Semitic conspiracy theories with Griffin, who was pushed out of Public Enemy in the late 1980s after making homophobic and anti-Semitic comments in media interviews.
"It's never hate speech. You can't be anti-Semitic when we are the Semitic people, when we are the same people who they want to be," said Cannon. "That's our birthright. We are the true Hebrews."
As the podcast surfaced and received comments on social media, Cannon was dropped by ViacomCBS. The media giant said in a statement that it condemns "bigotry of any kind and we categorically denounce all forms of anti-Semitism."
Cannon later wrote in a lengthy Facebook post, "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. I have dedicated my daily efforts to continuing conversations to bring the Jewish community and the African American community closer together, embracing our differences and sharing our commonalities."
Cannon also wrote he had reached out to ViacomCBS chair Shari Redstone, although a company spokesperson said that was "absolutely untrue."
Cannon has also demanded full ownership of his long-running Wild 'n Out brand from ViacomCBS, which debuted on MTV in 2005 and scored a three-season, 90-episode renewal in 2019.
Cannon's full apology is below.
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.