Ellen DeGeneres is wading back into the negative press she got last year.
It was inevitable that talk surrounding the toxic workplace at The Ellen DeGeneres Show would resurface once she announced the end of her long-running chat hour. Her ratings have reportedly been declining since the controversy, so people might understandably connect the dots between the two events.
But speaking with Savannah Guthrie for Today, the comedienne denied that last summer’s scandal had anything to do with her decision to leave daytime TV… and she had a few conspiracy theories about it, too. She told the journalist:
“If that was why I was quitting, I would’ve not come back this year. I really did think about not coming back because it was devastating. I just kept saying to Portia [de Rossi], ‘If I was a fan of somebody, and even though I loved them I would think there must be some truth to it because it is not stopping.’ That made me think… someone’s trying to really hurt me. And then right on the heels of that I hear that there is a toxic work environment, which I had no idea, never saw anything that would even point to that.”
The 63-year-old said the attacks “felt personal” and “like somebody really did not want the show to come back.” As to who that could be — and who would be powerful enough to fuel several months of bad PR, with dozens of individuals on the record about their experiences — she didn’t say. However, she continued:
“I mean, I really don’t understand it. I still don’t understand it. It was too orchestrated. It was too coordinated. And you know, people get picked on, but for four months straight for me, and then for me to read in the press about a toxic work environment when all I have ever heard from every guest that comes on the show is what a happy atmosphere this is and what a happy place it is.”
Uh, how the GUESTS felt about the environment was never the issue, and Ellen knows it!
Despite the fact that the Finding Nemo star seems to be claiming that the whole controversy was nothing but a conspiracy to dethrone her, she also provided excuses for the fact that she wasn’t aware of the workplace toxicity. She explained:
“I don’t know how I could have known when there is 255 employees here, and there are a lot of different buildings, unless I literally stayed here until the last people goes home at night. It is my name on the show, so clearly it affects me, and I have to be the one to stand up and say, this can’t be tolerated. But I do wish somebody would have come to me and said, ‘Hey, there is something that you should know about.’”
Not sure how anyone would have come to her with complaints when rumor had it that her employees weren’t supposed to look her in the eye. (A rumor she’s denied, for the record.)
The Emmy winner had one more card to play:
“How can I be an example of strength and perseverance and power if I give up and run away? And so it really is one of the reasons I came back. I worked really hard on myself. And also I have to say — if nobody else was saying it — it was really interesting because I’m a woman, and it did feel very misogynistic.”
Criticism isn’t automatically misogynistic just because it happens to a woman. And if there was a toxic workplace (which an internal Warner Bros. investigation seemed to prove), the person at the top of the pyramid bears responsibility for that, no matter what their gender is.
For all we know, maybe there was a coordinated attack on Ellen by some mysterious enemy who wanted her off the air — seems unlikely, but we’ll roll with it. Even if that were true, the allegations and criticism against her couldn’t have been invented out of thin air. Too many individuals were on the record in the Buzzfeed article and the original Twitter thread for it all to be made up. Maybe now that the show is ending, Ellen will be able to take the time to reflect and take responsibility for her part in the whole controversy. Though we doubt it.
Ch-ch-check out her full conversation for Today (below):
[Image via NBC/YouTube]