“The Talk” will be going on a short hiatus, as CBS conducts an internal review into a controversial exchange on the show last week.
During Wednesday’s episode, host Sharon Osbourne heatedly defended her friend Piers Morgan for his controversial comments about Duchess Meghan and defended herself against claims that her support of Morgan could be construed as racist.
Following the segment, CBS told USA TODAY in a statement that the episode is under internal review, noting that the network is committed to fostering diversity, inclusivity and respect in the workplace.
Sheryl Underwood, who received the brunt of Osbourne’s outburst, called the experience a “blessing” when she appeared two days later on “The Steve Harvey Morning Show.” She said that she “never thought in my mind” that was going to happen in her 10 years on the morning talk show.
“Everybody, especially people of color, (goes) through this all the time, there’s just no cameras pointing at you,” Underwood said. “Nobody gets to see it, nobody knows it. And today was my day and I accept the blessing of the lesson.”
During the exchange, Osbourne said she felt as though she was “about to be put in the electric chair because I have a friend who many people think is a racist and that makes me a racist,” referring to Morgan, her former “America’s Got Talent” co-judge, while discussing Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s tell-all Oprah Winfrey interview.
USA TODAY has reached out to representatives for Osbourne, Underwood and “The Talk” for comment.
Osbourne showed support for Morgan after the TV host exited ITV’s “Good Morning Britain” following comments he made on-air saying he didn’t “believe a word” Meghan said in her two-hour long, revelatory interview with Oprah Winfrey about her experience with the monarchy.
The two most significant allegations Meghan made concerned her description of the palace’s cold indifference to her mental stress and her claim that an unnamed royal family member expressed “concern” about “how dark” Prince Harry and Meghan’s son Archie’s skin would be.
On Friday, Osbourne took to Twitter to issue an apology “to anyone of color that I offended and/or to anyone that feels confused or let down by what I said” and promised to “continue to learn, listen and do better.”
“After some reflection, after sitting with your comments & sitting with my heart I would like to address the discussion on The Talk this past Wednesday,” she wrote on Twitter. “I have always been embraced with so much love & support from the Black community & I have deep respect & love for the Black community.”
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Speaking to Harvey, Underwood said it was important to her for Osbourne to see why Morgan was wrong to say race had nothing to do with Meghan’s treatment.
“It’s about her being Black and that’s why you’re treating her like that,” she said. “I love you, but you’re wrong for that right there.”
Many viewers on social media pointed out how Underwood remained calm during the conversation, even as Osbourne yelled at her. Ultimately, Underwood said she is thankful for the opportunity for others to “see what people have to go through.”
“I just wanted to be a better example for people who are working a regular old job that (have) to compose themselves. We are the only race of people that carry the race with us wherever we go and we’re responsible for that, and I want to thank everybody all over the world on social media, everybody in radio, television, news, everybody that reached out.”
When Underwood asked on Wednesday what she would say to people who felt it was racist to defend Morgan’s comments, Osbourne replied: “For me, at 68 years of age to have to turn around and say ‘I ain’t racist’ – what’s it got to do with me? How could I be racist about anybody? How could I be racist about anybody or anything in my life? How can I?”
Underwood sent the show to commercial as Osbourne continued speaking loudly over her. Upon returning, Osbourne again prodded her co-host.
“I will ask you again, Sheryl, I was asking you during the break and I’m asking you again. And don’t try and cry, because if anyone should be crying, it should be me,” she said, raising her voice. “This is the situation: you tell me where you have heard him say – educate me. Tell me when you have heard him say racist things. Educate me. Tell me.”
Speaking calmly, Underwood told Osbourne it isn’t “the exact words of racism,” but rather the “implication and the reaction to it.”
She added: “To not want to address that because she 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. But right now, I’m talking to a woman who I believe is my friend and I don’t want anybody here to watch this and say that we’re attacking you for being racist. And for that, if I articulated anything –”
Osbourne scoffed and cut her off again: “I think it’s too late. I think that seed is already sown.”
Contributing: Elise Brisco, Charles Trepany
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