Ellen DeGeneres’ On-Air Apology Was Tone Deaf, Current and Former Staffers Say

“Not only did Ellen turn my trauma, turn our traumas, into a joke, she somehow managed to make this about her,” former employee tells BuzzFeed News

Last Updated: September 22, 2020 @ 9:21 AM

Ellen DeGeneres opened Season 18 of “The Ellen DeGeneres” show Monday with a monologue that addressed the toxic workplace accusations posed against the show by current and former employees over the summer. But DeGeneres’ speech, which included apologies and a promise to start a “new chapter” at her show, was found tone-deaf by some former and current “Ellen” staffers due to the inclusion of jokes about how “great” her summer was, according to BuzzFeed News.

One former employee told BuzzFeed news, “When she said, ‘Oh my summer was great’ and that was supposed to be funny I thought, ‘It’s funny that you had a rough summer because everyone was calling out all of the allegations of your toxic work environment and now you’re the one suffering?'”

You can view DeGeneres’ monologue via the video above.

“Not only did Ellen turn my trauma, turn our traumas, into a joke, she somehow managed to make this about her,” another former staffer told BuzzFeed News.

One current “Ellen” employee told BuzzFeed News they also did not approve of the “inappropriate jokes” in DeGeneres’ on-air apology, adding that they were frustrated that their responsibilities at the show were “put on hold” until DeGeneres’ premiere monologue had been delivered. The staffer told BuzzFeed News they are relieved they can get back to work now, but say “it’s all tactical.”

“The average person will listen to it and make their own choices, but what people don’t always take into account is that information is power, and she’s sharing it now because it’s for premiere week and it’s to get viewers back, and that just feels the opposite of what this message is about,” the employee said.

A spokesperson for DeGeneres declined to comment Tuesday and representatives for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and distributor Warner Bros. TV did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request.

An individual with knowledge of the situation on set told TheWrap that the environment “feels very different,” and that DeGeneres is “more engaged than ever.” The insider says that DeGeneres had been connecting with her staff over Zoom leading up to Monday’s premiere to make sure they feel “heard and valued” and that she wanted to “directly” address her audience about the situation in the season premiere.

Dozens of current and former staffers spoke out about their time working on “Ellen” in a pair of bombshell Buzzfeed News reports in July.

WarnerMedia’s subsequent investigation into multiple accusations of workplace and sexual misconduct resulted in “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” removing three of its top producers: Ed Glavin, Kevin Leman and Jonathan Norman.

In a memo to staff back in July, DeGeneres said she was “disappointed” to learn that employees felt mistreated while working on her show and committed herself to “ensuring this does not happen again.”