‘The Talk’ Parts Ways With Sharon Osbourne After Racism Backlash

Sharon Osbourne on The Talk. (Credit: CBS)

Sharon Osbourne is out at The Talk. CBS made the announcement Friday, two weeks after Osbourne got into a heated discussion on the daytime talk show about race, her friend Piers Morgan and Meghan Markle.

“Sharon Osbourne has decided to leave The Talk,” the network said in a statement. “The events of the March 10 broadcast were upsetting to everyone involved, including the audience watching at home. As part of our review, we concluded that Sharon’s behavior toward her co-hosts during the March 10 episode did not align with our values for a respectful workplace.”

During the explosive episode of the normally staid CBS show, Osbourne cursed and pointed a finger at fellow Talk panelist Sheryl Underwood, who is Black.

Related Story: Piers Morgan Demands Apology From ‘Bullies’ at ‘The Talk’

The confrontation came in response to Osbourne defending British television personality Piers Morgan after he criticized Meghan Markle for her tell-all March 7 interview with Oprah Winfrey about the royal family. Morgan stormed off the set of his own ITV show over Markle’s interview, never to return.

Osbourne took to Twitter on March 9 to say she supported her friend.

“Piers Morgan I am with you. I stand by you. People forget that you’re paid for your opinion and that you’re just speaking your truth,” she tweeted.

Her post sparked backlash and a debate on The Talk the next day. During the now-viral exchange, Underwood asked Osbourne: “What would you say to people who feel that while you’re standing by your friend, it appears that you give validation or safe haven to something that he’s uttered that is racist? Even if you don’t agree with it.”

Osbourne responded, “I don’t know what he’s uttered that’s racist. I’m not trying to slide out of this one, I don’t know—tell me. What has he uttered that’s racist?”

The 68-year-old British TV personality, who is White, became defensive and asked why viewers were calling her a racist. She raised her voice and said, “And I think we should stop this f–king,” before she was muted by production and Underwood tossed to break.

In response, some social media users accused Osbourne of racism and gaslighting. As the controversy exploded, CBS launched an investigation and placed The Talk on hiatus.

Osbourne later told Entertainment Tonight she was “set up” and felt targeted on the episode.

“I’m like ‘I’ve been set up,'” Osbourne said. “I went like ‘how dare you all do this to me? I’m your sacrificial lamb.'”

CBS insisted Friday that Osbourne was not targeted, but the network admitted there was a breakdown in communication behind the scenes.

“We also did not find any evidence that CBS executives orchestrated the discussion or blindsided any of the hosts,” the network said. “At the same time, we acknowledge the network and studio teams, as well as the showrunners, are accountable for what happened during that broadcast as it was clear the co-hosts were not properly prepared by the staff for a complex and sensitive discussion involving race. During this week’s hiatus, we are coordinating workshops, listening sessions and training about equity, inclusion and cultural awareness for the hosts, producers and crew. Going forward, we are identifying plans to enhance the producing staff and producing procedures to better serve the hosts, the production and, ultimately, our viewers.”

Following the heated episode, Osbourne apologized with a statement on social media. “I have always been embraced with so much love & support from the Black community & I have deep respect & love for the Black community. To anyone of colour that I offended and/or to anyone that feels confused or let down by what I said, I am truly sorry,” she shared.

She also defended herself in a string of interviews. But others, including former Talk panelists, said Osbourne had a history of making racist comments at work after joining the series in 2010.

Among her critics, Holly Robinson Peete — who said she was pushed out of The Talk after one season, most likely because Sharon Osbourne complained about her.

“I’m old enough to remember when Sharon complained that I was too ‘ghetto’ for #theTalk … then I was gone,” Robinson Peete shared in a March 12 Instagram post.

Days later, journalist Yashar Ali published a bombshell report in his e-mail newsletter, saying he had spoken with 11 people, including former Talk co-host Leah Remini. The group alleged Osbourne had used racist and homophobic slurs against former Talk co-hosts Julie Chen, who is Asian American, and Sara Gilbert, who is a lesbian.

Ali’s report alleged Osbourne called then-moderator Chen “slanty eyes” and claimed she described Gilbert as a “fish eater.”

Remini additionally told Ali that Osbourne called her Italian slurs including “WOP,” and she backed up Robinson Peete’s claim that Osbourne tried to get her fired for being “too ghetto.”

CBS said Friday The Talk will return on April 12. Watch the viral episode of the show below.