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Ellen DeGeneres says the toxic workplace scandal felt ‘coordinated’ and ‘very misogynistic’

·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·4 min read
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Ellen DeGeneres has given her first TV interview since announcing her talk show will end in 2022.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show host, 63, told Today's Savannah Guthrie that the toxic workplace allegations and ratings slide were not factors in her decision, noting that if she was still "having fun, I would do this show with nobody watching." However, she admits the personal attacks hit hard, and said they felt "orchestrated" and "coordinated." They also felt "very misogynistic."

The interview took place after DeGeneres recorded her emotional monologue announcing the news on her show, which airs Thursday. Speaking to her viewers, she broke down in tears, saying "The past 18 years have changed my life. You’ve changed my life. And I am forever grateful to all of you for watching, for laughing, for dancing, sometimes crying. This show has been the greatest experience of my life and I owe it all to you."

Watch Ellen's monologue announcing the end of her talk show:

DeGeneres said on Today that if she was quitting over the toxic workplace allegations, "I would have not come back this year" for season 18. However, she admitted, "I really did think about not coming back, because it was devastating. It started with attacks on me and attacking everything that I stand for and believe in and built my career around... I am a kind person. I am a person who likes to make people happy."

She also said ending the show has nothing to do with losing one million viewers amid the scandal.

"Everything in television is down," DeGeneres said of the ratings. "It's got nothing to do with why I'm leaving. If I was having fun, I would do this show with nobody watching." As for the steep ratings decline, "We had further to fall. Everybody else was at a lower place, so they didn't have as far to fall. To be honest. I mean, that's the truth. We were very, very successful."

DeGeneres said she had "no idea" her employees had allegedly been subjected to racism, sexual harassment and intimidation behind the scenes until she read about it in the news. She pointed out there are 225 show employees in "a lot of different buildings." However, "It's 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, something's going on that you should know about.'" (Three producers were fired amid the investigation.)

As the whole thing blew up, people started sharing Ellen horror stories on social media and calling for her cancellation, which DeGeneres said hurt deeply.

"I really didn't understand it, I still don't understand it," she said, claiming that "it was too orchestrated, it was too coordinated," but not indicating by whom. She added, "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."

(Photo: NBC NEWS / TODAY)
Ellen DeGeneres sat down with Today's Savannah Guthrie in her first TV interview since announcing the end of her talk show. (Photo: NBC NEWS / TODAY)

DeGeneres said "people get picked on," but "for four months straight" she was the target "when all I've ever heard from every guest that comes on the show is what a happy atmosphere this is." She admitted it "took a toll on me."

She continued, "No, I'm not bulletproof. And no, I don't have thick skin. I'm extremely sensitive to the point of it's not healthy how sensitive I am."

DeGeneres said the whole thing took her back to when her Ellen sitcom was cancelled soon after she and her character came out in 1997. 

"My therapist is like, very few people go through such huge public humiliation twice in a lifetime," she said. "How can I be an example of strength and perseverance and power if I give up and run away? So it really is one of the reasons I came back. I worked really hard on myself."

DeGeneres had inked a deal in 2019 for three more seasons of the talk show — through Season 19. In Thursday's announcement on her show, she vowed to make it a great one.

"I promise you that we’re going to have a fantastic final season," she said. "It will be a season where I truly get to say, 'Thank you. Thank you all.' Every day will be a celebration." She also promised "a lot of surprises" and "trips down memory lane."

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