Following a supposedly racist alterercation between Sharon Osbourne and Sheryl Underwood, The Talk, the flagship CBS morning talk-show, has been off the air for a week after the network decided to suspend it until clarification of what happened.
On last Wednesday’s edition of the show, African-American host Sheryl Underwood questioned her colleague Sharon Osbourne for having defended the right to free speech of Piers Morgan -the already “Good Morning Britain” host-, who had to leave the program after saying he “didn’t believe a word” of Meghan Markle’s complaints during her interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Sharon Osbourne, who rose to fame for her MTV reality show with her husband, Ozzy Osbourne and the rest of her family, has co-hosted The Talk since its inception in 2010. Just 2 weeks ago, Sharon Osbourne defended her friend Piers Morgan and his right to freedom of opinion, both from her Twitter account and in some interviews.
So, Sheryl Underwood asked Sharon Osbourne “what would you say to people who may have felt that, even though you’re defending your friend, it seemed like you were validating or harboring something absolutely racist like what he said, even if you don’t agree.”
Osbourne, baffled by the question, responded that she felt she was “sat in the electric chair” for having a friend who some accuse of being a racist, insisting that she didn’t believe such allegations and that the whole association was out of place.
Visibly angry at the attack, and uttering a few words that were muffled by a beep, Sharon was cut off by a commercial break as she said, “so if I like Piers, and he’s seen as racist, then I’m racist? Is that what you’re trying to tell me?” Osbourne asked Underwood to explain what Piers had said that was racist.
Back from commercial, Sheryl Underwood looked like she was about to burst into tears, to which Sharon Osbourne responded by saying, “Don’t try to cry. If anyone should be crying, it should be me.” Underwood replied that the fact that Piers Morgan had not given veracity to Meghan Markle’s allegations of suicidal thoughts she had because of allegedly racist treatment by the royal family was in itself racist, even if she could not point to a specifically racist phrase or words.
Both women, visibly moved, continued to beat around the bush. Underwood insisted that she had simply “felt” that what Morgan said was racist, and that she did not intend to accuse Osbourne of being racist for defending him, claiming that the question was about how Osbourne felt that some unspecified people might consider her racist for defending her friend who, in Underwood’s eyes, had been “absolutely racist.”
Sharon Osbourne may not return to The Talk
Following this discussion, the CBS network has stopped airing the show and explained in a statement that it “is committed to a diverse, inclusive and respectful work environment in all of its productions,” and that it has opened “a process in which all voices are heard, all statements are being investigated and appropriate action will be taken where necessary.”
For the time being, the only casualties have been Piers Morgan -who has been forced to leave his show- and Sharon Osbourne, who believes she will not return to the show because the situation has become “too personal” with her partner Underwood.
Osbourne has even gone so far as to apologize on Twitter for getting defensive about Underwood’s veiled accusation of racism.