The Real Reason Nick Cannon's Masked Singer Gig Is Safe

Sticks and stones might break your bones but, for TV host and actor Nick Cannon, words can hurt your career. The former America's Got Talent host was fired by ViacomCBS on July 14, 2020, after executives were made aware of the anti-Semitic comments Cannon made during an interview with rapper Richard Griffin, a.k.a. Professor Griff, on a since-deleted episode of his Cannon's Class podcast (per Variety).

According to The New York Times, Griffin was kicked out of the hip-hop group Public Enemy in 1989 for making anti-Semitic comments, including the statement: "The Jews are wicked. And we can prove this." While on-air with Cannon, however, Griffin defended his record. "I'm hated now because I told the truth," he said. Cannon replied, "You're speaking facts. There's no reason to be scared of anything when you're speaking the truth."

Cannon and Griffin continued by spouting conspiracy theories about Jewish people running major media companies. They also claimed that Black people are the true Semitic people. "It's never hate speech, you can't be anti-Semitic when we are the Semitic people. When we are the same people who they want to be," Cannon said. "That's our birthright. We are the true Hebrews."

While ViacomCBS, parent company of MTV and TeenNick, was "deeply troubled" by Cannon's remarks, his gig at Fox's The Masked Singer appears to have been saved from elimination at this time.

Nick Cannon says he's "committed to deeper connections"

After TV host and actor Nick Cannon was fired from ViacomCBS, Mariah Carey's former husband took to social media to express his regret and apologize to those he'd offended.

"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 wrote on Twitter. He explained that his words reinforced "the worst stereotypes of a proud and magnificent people" and that he feels ashamed of how "uninformed and naïve" they were. He noted that the interview has since been removed from YouTube.

Cannon continued, "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." He thanked those who reached out to help teach him, including Rabbis, community leaders, and institutions.

Cannon also assured his "Jewish friends, new and old" that this experience was "only the beginning of [his] education," as he's "committed to deeper connections, more profound learning and strengthening the bond between our two cultures." While some believe the damage has already been done, Fox believes Cannon's remorse can fuel powerful conversations.

Fox will help Nick Cannon "advance this important conversation"

ViacomCBS executives chose to terminate their relationship with Nick Cannon. Per their statement (via Variety), the company supports "ongoing education and dialogue in the fight against bigotry," but, in that moment, it was "deeply troubled that Nick has failed to acknowledge or apologize for perpetuating anti-Semitism."

But, with Nick Cannon's eventual apology in mind, Fox chose not to end his gig as host of the network's hit The Masked Singer, as the company plans to work with Cannon to fight bigotry in all its forms.

"When we were made aware of Nick Cannon's interview with Richard Griffin on YouTube, we immediately began a dialogue with Nick," Fox said, as reported by Consequence of Sound. "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."

While Cannon's certainly lucky that his apology saved his hosting job, he hasn't always been the type to offer up his remorse.

Nick Cannon once refused to apologize for an "offensive" performance

On September 30, 2017, comedian Nick Cannon performed for students at Georgian Court University in New Jersey. Shortly after, Cannon took to Twitter to share a letter he received from University President Joseph R. Marbach, in which the administrator chastised Cannon's offensive act. 

"While comedy often explores serious social issues in ways that are fun and thought-provoking, Mr. Cannon's act crossed the line," Marbach wrote. "His words were offensive and do not represent our Mercy core values." Marbach noted that Cannon violated the terms of their contract and demanded an apology.

"I ain't apologizing for s*** LOL... wait, I'm sorry your university doesn't believe in freedom of speech!!!" Cannon captioned his screenshot of Marbach's letter. Student Laurie Ebenau told NJ101.5 that Cannon's show was "hilarious" and she had a good time, but that there were instances where he overstepped the school's core values of "respect, integrity, justice, compassion and service."

"He did get a little vulgar with sexual content and swear words," she explained, adding that Cannon also humped a bar stool at one point. "At the same time, he also made really good points about racism and issues we're going through as a country and hearing that as college students really hit us."

Perhaps Cannon has learned a thing or two about how to apologize after juggling so many controversial incidents over the years.