ViacomCBS, MTV’s parent company, has fired The Masked Singer presenter Nick Cannon after he shared anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and comments on a June 30 episode of his Cannon’s Class podcast on YouTube.
ViacomCBS said in a statement: “We have spoken with Nick Cannon about an episode of his podcast ‘Cannon’s Class’ on YouTube, which promoted hateful speech and spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.”
It added: “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 anti-Semitism, and we are terminating our relationship with him.”
Cannon’s television career has spanned more than 15 years with MTV and Nickelodeon, also ViacomCBS-owned, starting with his sketch comedy show Wild ‘n Out which aired from 2005.
The 39-year-old actor and former America’s Got Talent host had been a familiar fixture presenting across the network’s channels.
Mariah Carey’s former husband was also chairman for TeenNick, a spin-off Nickelodeon channel geared towards 13 to 17-year-olds.
On Monday, Cannon tweeted a thread discussing his comments amid backlash, saying: “Anyone who knows me knows that I have no hate in my heart nor malice intentions. I do not condone hate speech nor the spread of hateful rhetoric. We are living in a time when it is more important than ever to promote unity and understanding.” He added that he holds himself accountable for “this moment” and said he welcomed experts, clergy, or spokespersons to do the same.
What to watch for
Whether Fox, which airs The Masked Singer hosted by Cannon, takes similar action.
Cannon’s comments took place during his podcast interview with former Public Enemy group member Richard Griffin, known as Professor Griff, whose anti-semitic comments in the 1980s triggered the split of the hip hop group. At the time, Griffin told conservative paper the Washington Times: “The Jews are wicked. And we can prove this.” In his recent interview with Cannon, Griffin appeared to stand by his past remarks, telling the podcast: “I’m hated now because I told the truth.” Cannon, who called Griffin a “legend”, said: “You’re speaking facts. There’s no reason to be scared of anything when you’re speaking the truth.” Cannon also made reference to the Rothschild banking dynasty, who have for decades been targets of anti-Semitism, and claimed that what he was saying was not “hate speech”, adding “the Semitic people are Black people.”
Cannon and Griffin’s comments emerge amid a wider conversation about prominent celebrities making or sharing anti-Semitic remarks in a time of anti-racism protests. Rapper Ice Cube, sports star DeSean Jackson and talk show host Chelsea Handler, who is Jewish, have recently been criticised for promoting anti-Semitic ideas on social media. Former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar blasted this form of racism in his column in The Hollywood Reporter adding that it threatens to undermine the Black Lives Matter movement. “If we’re going to be outraged by injustice, let’s be outraged by injustice against anyone,” he wrote. Meanwhile journalist Jemele Hill, referencing insensitive comments she made about Hitler in 2008, said in a recent Atlantic op-ed: “I learned that just because I’m aware of the destruction caused by racism, that doesn’t mean I’m automatically sensitive to other forms of racism, or in this case, anti-Semitism. Black people, too, are capable of being culturally arrogant.”