By Marcy Oster
Actor and television host Nick Cannon walked back a video podcast interview he filmed last year that contains anti-Semitic statements and conspiracy theories, but he stopped short of an apology.
“Anyone who knows me knows that I have no hate in my heart nor malice intention,” he wrote Monday in a Facebook post. “I do not condone hate speech nor the spread of hateful rhetoric. We are living in a time when it is more important than ever to promote unity and understanding.”
Cannon was responding to the release late last month of his interview with Richard “Professor Griff” Griffin, who performed with the rap group Public Enemy. Griffin was kicked out of Public Enemy in 1989 for making anti-Semitic remarks in an interview with The Washington Post in which he reportedly said that Jews were responsible “for the majority of wickedness that goes on across the globe.”
In his “Cannon’s Class” video podcast, Cannon calls Black people the “true Hebrews,” and he praises Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, saying that “every time I’ve heard him speak, it’s positive, it’s powerful, it’s uplifting,” and that Farrakhan “has been demonized.” Farrakhan has called Jews “termites” and denounced the “Synagogue of Satan.”
“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. I encourage more healthy dialogue and welcome any experts, clergy, or spokespersons to any of my platforms to hold me accountable and correct me in any statement that I’ve made that has been projected as negative,” Cannon also wrote.
He said that “I hold myself accountable for this moment and take full responsibility.”
Cannon told the Fast Company website that a few rabbis have reached out in the wake of the video and that he plans to have them on his podcast.
“I can’t wait to sit down with some people that can help educate me and help further this conversation. I want to be corrected,” he said.
Update, July 16, 2020: ViacomCBS has cut ties with Cannon, who claims that he has received an “outpouring of love and support from the Jewish community” in the wake of the firing.
“It has been amazing. I have spoken with many Rabbis, clergy, Professors and coworkers who offer their sincere help. I must apologize to my Jewish Brothers and Sisters for putting them in such a painful position, which was never my intention, but I know this whole situation has hurt many people and together we will make it right,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday morning.
Cannon said that he has been invited to visit Israel, “which is a lifelong dream,” and that his longtime business partner Michael Goldman is Jewish. He added that he is pursuing a PhD in Theology and Divinity.
“ViacomCBS condemns bigotry of any kind and we categorically denounce all forms of anti-Semitism. We have spoken with Nick Cannon about an episode of his podcast ‘Cannon’s Class’ on YouTube, which promoted hateful speech and spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. While we support ongoing education and dialogue in the fight against bigotry, 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 said in a statement, according to Variety.
Cannon has been associated with Viacom since he appeared on Nickelodeon in the late 1990s (Viacom bought CBS in 1999 and they split in 2006. The companies merged again at the end of 2019). He currently serves as the host of “The Masked Singer” on Fox and hosted “America’s Got Talent” on NBC from 2009-2016.