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Fox Will 'Move Forward' With Nick Cannon as Masked Singer Host Despite Anti-Semitic Comments

'This moment calls for dialogue,' the network said in a statement

Amanda Bell

Update 10:45 p.m. ET: Fox has indicated that Nick Cannon will continue as host of The Masked Singer despite the anti-Semitic comments he made on his YouTube podcast, Cannon's Class.

In a statement, the network said, "When we were made aware of Nick Cannon's interview with Richard Griffin on YouTube, we immediately began a dialogue with Nick.  He is clear and remorseful that his words were wrong and lacked both understanding and context, and inadvertently promoted hate. This was important for us to observe.  Nick has sincerely apologized, and quickly taken steps to educate himself and make amends. On that basis and given a belief that this moment calls for dialogue, we will move forward with Nick and help him advance this important conversation, broadly. Fox condemns all forms of hate directed toward any community and we will combat bigotry of any kind."

Cannon apologized for his comments in a separate statement released Wednesday night. "First and foremost I extend my deepest and most sincere apologies to my Jewish sisters and brothers for the hurtful and divisive words that came out of my mouth during my interview with Richard Griffin," Cannon tweeted. "They reinforced the worst stereotypes of a proud and magnificent people and I feel ashamed of the uninformed and naïve place that these words came from." He noted that the video of the interview had been removed.

"While the Jewish experience encompasses more than 5,000 years and there is so much I have yet to learn, I have had at least a minor history lesson over the past few days and to say that it is eye-opening would be a vast understatement," Cannon continued. He went on to thank the various Rabbis, community leaders, and institutions who reached out to him after hearing the podcast to educate him rather than "chastise" him.

He concluded the thread, "I want to assure my Jewish friends, new and old, that this is only the beginning of my education -- I am committed to deeper connections, more profound learning and strengthening the bond between our two cultures today and every day going forward."

Cannon later tweeted, "On my podcast I used words & referenced literature I assumed to be factual to uplift my community instead turned out to be hateful propaganda and stereotypical rhetoric that pained another community[.] For this I am deeply sorry but now together we can write a new chapter of healing."

7/15/20: ViacomCBS is terminating its long relationship with Nick Cannon. On Tuesday, the network announced its decision to cut ties with Cannon due to his use of "hateful speech" and "anti-Semitic conspiracy theories" during a recent episode of his YouTube show, Cannon's Class.

The episode featured a discussion between Cannon and hip hop star and author Richard Griffin, aka Professor Griff. During the segment, Cannon, who created and has hosted MTV's Nick Cannon Presents: Wild 'N Out for Viacom's MTV since 2005, discussed Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and said that "a person that has the lack of pigment, the lack of melanin ... they know they will be annihilated, so therefore, however they got the power, they have the lack of compassion." 

Cannon went on to add, "They're acting out of fear. They're acting out of low self esteem. They're acting out of a deficiency. So therefore, the only way that they can act is evil ... They have to rob, steal, rape, kill, and fight."

At another point in the discussion, Cannon referred to "the Rothschilds, centralized banking, the 13 families, the bloodlines that control everything even outside of America." Cannon said, "You can't be anti-Semitic when we are the Semitic people, when we are the same people who they want to be. That's our birthright."

In a statement provided to TV Guide, a spokesperson from ViacomCBS said, "ViacomCBS condemns bigotry of any kind and we categorically denounce all forms of anti-Semitism. 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. 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. We are committed to doing better in our response to incidents of anti-Semitism, racism, and bigotry. ViacomCBS will have further announcements on our efforts to combat hate of all kinds." 

In addition to Wild 'N Out, Cannon has also been regularly involved in programming for Nickelodeon and MTV2, including hosting the 2005 Kids' Choice Awards and the 2009 Nickelodeon HALO Awards. 

In a lengthy Facebook post following his firing, Cannon wrote that ViacomCBS is on the "wrong side of history" for firing him. 

"I will not be bullied, silenced, or continuously oppressed by any organization, group, or corporation. I am disappointed that Viacom does not understand or respect the power of the black community," Cannon wrote. He also wrote that he believes ViacomCBS is "on the wrong side of history." 

"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," Cannon wrote. "I have dedicated my daily efforts to continuing conversations to bring the Jewish Community and the African American community closer together, embracing our differences and sharing our commonalities... Systemic racism is what this world was built on and was the subject in which I was attempting to highlight in the recent clips that have been circulating from my podcast. If I have furthered the hate speech, I wholeheartedly apologize."

Wild 'N Out, an improv competition series, was previously renewed through Season 16.