Nick Cannon Demands Apology From ViacomCBS, Announces Trip to Israel, After Media Giant Axes Him Amid Antisemitism Furor
US television star and actor Nick Cannon clapped back at ViacomCBS on Wednesday shortly after the media giant fired him for promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories during an episode of his “Cannon’s Class” podcast.
In a lengthy statement posted on Facebook, the 39-year-old demanded an apology from the company as well as ownership of “Wild ‘N Out,” a comedy improv show broadcasting on VH1, which is owned by ViacomCBS. Cannon is the show’s executive producer and has been its host since 2005.
Although Cannon previously refused to apologize for making antisemitic remarks on a “Cannon’s Class” episode, in his Facebook post, titled “Truth and Reconciliation,” he said, “If I have furthered the hate speech, I wholeheartedly apologize.”
“But now I am the one making demands. I demand full ownership of my billion dollar ‘Wild ‘N Out’ brand that I created, and they will continue to misuse and destroy without my leadership! I demand that the hate and back door bullying cease and while we are at it, now that the truth is out, I demand the Apology!”
Cannon also alleged that ViacomCBS recently banned “all advertisement that supported George Floyd and Breonna Taylor who we are still seeking justice for.” He said he reached out to ViacomCBS Chair Shari Redstone “to have a conversation of reconciliation and actually apologize if I said anything that pained or hurt her or her community,” and received no response.
He accused ViacomCBS of having an “oppressive and racist infrastructure” and said the company was “now on the wrong side of history.”
“My hope and original goal was to use this moment to show healing and acceptance and prayed that Viacom would use their powers for good. Instead I am now receiving death threats, hate messages calling me an ungrateful [N—] and beyond,” said Cannon, who retweeted a slew of messages of support from fans as well as critics from late Tuesday and into Wednesday morning.
“Viacom’s goal to keep me from providing for my family and lineage will be foiled. They can try to kick me while I’m down or force me to kiss the master’s feet in public for shame and ridicule, but instead I stand firm on my square with my fist in the air repeating my mantra, ‘You can’t fire a Boss!’”
Cannon highlighted the “outpouring of love and support from the Jewish community” he said he had received, and claimed he had spoken with “Rabbis, clergy, Professors and coworkers” who offered to help him.
He added, “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.”
He also announced that he had been invited to visit Israel, “which is a lifelong dream where I will receive teachings, lessons and truth about the Jewish history.”
Cannon continued, “As someone who is in pursuit for my PHD in Theology and Divinity and just received a degree in Criminal Justice from the Great Howard University, this will be an enriching, enlightening and overall exciting trip!”
ViacomCBS is the parent company of MTV, which first aired “Wild ‘N Out” before the show moved to VH1, and the cable channel TeenNick, a spin-off of the Nickelodeon network that is geared towards adolescents. Cannon was also an executive producer and chairman of TeenNick.
ViacomCBS said Cannon did not attempt to contact Redstone.
“It is absolutely untrue that Nick Cannon reached out to the Chair of ViacomCBS,” a company spokesperson told Variety. Regarding Cannon’s claim about ads related to Floyd and Taylor, the ViacomCBS rep referenced a previous statement from a company spokesperson who said the ad block was related to a show called “Revenge Prank,” and that “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.”
On Tuesday, a ViacomCBS spokesperson told The Algemeiner that it was ending its partnership with Cannon following the antisemitic comments he made on his podcast.
“ViacomCBS condemns bigotry of any kind and we categorically denounce all forms of antisemitism,” the spokesperson said. “We have spoken with Nick Cannon about an episode of his podcast ‘Cannon’s Class’ on YouTube, which promoted hateful speech and spread antisemitic 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 antisemitism, and we are terminating our relationship with him,” the spokesperson added. “We are committed to doing better in our response to incidents of antisemitism, racism, and bigotry. ViacomCBS will have further announcements on our efforts to combat hate of all kinds.”
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) on Wednesday applauded ViacomCBS for firing Cannon.
Bravo, @ViacomCBS, for taking a stand against all hate and for treating antisemitism with the seriousness that you treat other forms of bigotry.
We cannot be selective in our condemnation of hate!https://t.co/TW1Fju8qoG
— American Jewish Committee (@AJCGlobal) July 15, 2020
Cannon still hosts the musical game show “The Masked Singer” that airs on Fox, which is not part of ViacomCBS. He hosted “America’s Got Talent” on NBC from 2009-2016 and is also launching a syndicated daytime talk show in September with Lionsgate’s Debmar-Mercury.
Fox and Debmar-Mercury did not immediately respond to The Algemeiner’s requests for comments on Cannon’s antisemitic remarks.
On June 30, Cannon shared on YouTube an interview he did last year with rapper Richard “Professor Griff” Griffin for “Cannon’s Class.” Griffin was fired from the hip hop group Public Enemy in 1989 after making antisemitic comments, such as the claim that Jews were responsible for “the majority of wickedness that goes on across the globe,” in an interview with The Washington Times.
Griffin stood by his past remarks during his appearance on “Cannon’s Class” and also outlined an antisemitic conspiracy theory about how Black Africans were the real Jews.
Cannon replied, “You’re speaking facts. There’s no reason to be scared of anything when you’re speaking the truth.”
During the interview, Cannon himself referenced antisemitic conspiracy theories regarding “the Rothschilds, centralized banking, the 13 families, the bloodlines that control everything even outside of America.” He also slammed Jews for criticizing Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a notorious antisemite who has previously referred to Jews as “termites.” Cannon alleged that the “Honorable Minister Farrakhan” was being “silenced” and “neutralized.”
Cannon addressed his comments in a string of Twitter posts on Monday, July 13, saying, “I do not condone hate speech nor the spread of hateful rhetoric,” and “I hold myself accountable for this moment and take full responsibility.” He later said in an interview with Fast Money that he would not “bow down” with an apology.
Regarding his praise of Farrakhan, he said, “I can’t be responsible for however long Minister Farrakhan has been ministering and things that he said…But I condemn any hate speech. I don’t care who said it. I don’t care if my dad said it. I don’t care if Farrakhan said it. If anyone is saying something hateful or demonic, I don’t support that at all.”