Nick Cannon, the actor, rapper, and television host who also happens to be Mariah Carey’s ex-husband, has recently come under fire for anti-Semitic remarks. In a podcast episode released on 30th June — which only became subject to controversy earlier this week following outrage on social media — he made a series of offensive comments about the Jewish community whilst interviewing former Public Enemy member Richard Griffin.
During a conversation between the two men about racial bias, Cannon suggested that Jews had usurped Black people’s identity as true Hebrews, alluded to the idea that people with less melanin are inferior, and mentioned an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about the Rothschild family. He also praised the work of Louis Farrakhan, an American religious leader and political figure whose teachings have been officially deemed anti-Semitic by the civil rights organisation Southern Poverty Law Center.
Cannon took to Facebook on Monday 13th — the day the podcast episode started to face backlash — to issue a lengthy statement. He condemned the spread of “hateful rhetoric” and noted that he was taking full responsibility for his remarks, although he stopped short of outright apologising for them. Emphasising the need for open discussions about difficult topics, he wrote: “In today’s conversation about anti-racism and social justice, I think we all — including myself — must continue educating one another and embrace uncomfortable conversations — it’s the only way we ALL get better.”
As a result of mounting pressures following what many have deemed a non-apology, ViacomCBS announced on Tuesday that the company was severing its ties with Cannon. “We are deeply troubled that Nick has failed to acknowledge or apologize for perpetuating anti-Semitism, and we are terminating our relationship with him,” the company stated. Cannon was the producer and host of Wild ‘n Out”, a sketch comedy and improv game show that aired on VH1, a ViacomCBS-owned channel. Cannon claims that he tried to reach out to the company after the discontinuation of his contract, to no avail.
On Wednesday, he took to social media once again to express his remorse in a series of posts. “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,” he wrote. ViacomCBS has not yet responded to Cannon’s apology.
Although he was dropped by ViacomCBS, Cannon was spared by Fox, who will not replace him as the host of the singing competition show “The Masked Singer”.
“Nick has sincerely apologized, and quickly taken steps to educate himself and make amends,” the company stated.
The controversy and Cannon’s only partial downfall has fed debates surrounding the contentious subject of cancel culture — and whether it amounts to silencing or accountability.
Words by Chloé Meley