CBS is initiating an investigation over an episode of The Talk that sparked controversy after co-host Sharon Osbourne defended Piers Morgan’s comments about Meghan Markle and asked fellow co-host Sheryl Underwood to “educate” her during the conversation.
“We are committed to a diverse, inclusive and respectful workplace. All matters related to the Wednesday episode of ‘The Talk’ are currently under internal review,” the network said in a statement on Friday.
During the episode, Underwood asked Osbourne about her support for Piers Morgan in the wake of remarks he had made regarding Markle and Prince Harry’s CBS interview the previous Sunday. On Good Morning Britain, Morgan had called Markle a liar and suggested that her story in the interview about feeling suicidal wasn’t true, prompting over 40,000 viewer complaints and Morgan’s resignation from the morning show. “What would you say to people who may feel that while you’re standing by your friend, it appears you gave validation or safe haven to something that he has uttered that is racist, even if you don’t agree? Am I saying it right?” Underwood said.
Osbourne responded by questioning where Underwood had heard Morgan say racist remarks: “Educate me, tell me when you have heard him say racist things?” Osbourne said. “I very much feel 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?”
Growing irate, Osbourne said, “How can I be racist about anybody or anything in my life,” she said, cursing as Underwood went to a commercial break. When the show returned, she continued demanding Underwood explain what was racist about Morgan’s comments, and added: “And don’t try and cry, because if anyone should be crying, it should be me.”
Osbourne apologized for the remarks on Thursday, saying, “I am truly sorry. I panicked, felt blindsided, got defensive & allowed my fear and horror of being accused of being racist take over.” (Morgan, in turn, took the opportunity of this apology to demand his own apology “from those @TheTalkCBS bullies” for “disgraceful slurs against ME.”)
In the aftermath of the exchange, former The Talk co-host Holly Robinson Peete tweeted an accusation of racial insensitivity against Osbourne. “I’m old enough to remember when Sharon complained that I was too “ghetto” for #theTalk…then I was gone,” she posted on Twitter on Friday.