Some of you may not remember this, but the controversy surrounding the toxic work environment on The Ellen Degeneres Show really kicked off in March of 2020 when Kevin T. Porter posted this to Twitter:
Right now we all need a little kindness. You know, like Ellen Degeneres always talks about! 😊❤️— Kevin T. Porter (@KevinTPorter) March 20, 2020
She’s also notoriously one of the meanest people alive
Respond to this with the most insane stories you’ve heard about Ellen being mean & I’ll match every one w/ $2 to @LAFoodBank
There were 2,000 responses to that tweet, outlining multiple horror stories about the abuse Ellen Degeneres inflicted upon her staff, her writers, (non-celebrity) guests, and randos who had encounters with DeGeneres. There was a server who DeGeneres had fired because she had chipped nail polish; there were tales that she required staffers to chew gum outside of her office before seeing her so they wouldn’t smell bad (and if they did, they were sent home to shower); one writer said that she picked one writer each day to be mean to; a guest claimed that Ellen was rude to her before the cameras started rolling; and even some celebrities (Kathy Griffin) recounted rude experiences they had with Ellen.
The point is, these stories were about Ellen herself, but a few months later, Buzzfeed ran an exposé on the toxic work culture behind the scenes of her show involving her staff. That report got several staffers from Ellen’s show rightly fired, but it also allowed DeGeneres to shift the narrative from her abusive behavior to that of the staff.
As far as Ellen is concerned, that’s where it remains, as DeGeneres sat down with the Today show this morning for her first interview since officially announcing that her talk show would end after the upcoming 19th season. She first suggested that the attacks were “orchestrated” and then stated that all she ever heard from the celebrity guests is what a wonderful environment it was for them.
“People get picked on, but for four months straight for me, and for me to read in the press about a toxic work environment when all I’ve ever heard from every guest that comes on the show is what a happy atmosphere this is, and how — what a happy place it is,” DeGeneres said.
“I don’t know how I could have known when there’s 255 employees here and there are a lot of different buildings. Unless I literally stayed here until the last person goes home at night,” she said. “I do wish somebody would have come to me and said, ‘Hey, something’s going on that you should know about.’”
Did you feel like you were being canceled? -@SavannahGuthrie— TODAY (@TODAYshow) May 13, 2021
I really didn't understand it, I still don't understand it … it was too orchestrated, it was too coordinated.” -Ellen DeGeneres pic.twitter.com/bBTk4hLKqk
Buzzfeed originally reported that her staff tried to insulate Ellen from the details surrounding her toxic workplace, but even assuming that’s true — and it makes sense because I’m sure they were terrified to deliver bad news to her — none of that addresses DeGeneres’ own role in the workplace culture. Ellen wants to make this story about the sexual harassment and bad behavior perpetrated by some of her staffers, but she never addresses her own abusive behavior toward her staff.
Meanwhile, Ellen described herself in the interview as a “kind person” who liked to “make people happy,” which doesn’t align with either the horror stories about her or the years of whispers about her behavior.
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