ViacomCBS is ending a decades-long relationship with Nick Cannon after he recently made anti-Semitic comments on his podcast.
The actor and TV host was joined by controversial hip hop figure Professor Griff on a recent episode of the “Cannon’s Class” podcast, where talk turned to Black people as the “true Hebrews” and included anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
ViacomCBS announced Tuesday that it was severing its ties with Cannon.
On Wednesday a spokesman for the corporation released a statement to CNN saying the company “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,” the statement read.
“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.”
“We are committed to doing better in our response to incidents of anti-Semitism, racism, and bigotry. ViacomCBS will have further announcements on our efforts to combat hate of all kinds,” the statement concluded.
In 1989 Griff was briefly kicked out of the rap group Public Enemy after he made anti-Semitic comments, but later rejoined the group as its ”supreme allied chief of community relations” according to a New York Times article from that year.
During his appearance on Cannon’s podcast, Griff doubled down on his past comments and said he was “hated now because I told the truth.”
Cannon said that Griff was “speaking facts” and amplified Griff’s views that Jewish people controlled the media, likening it to the power of the Rothschild family, banking scions who have long been targets of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
“The Masked Singer” host also disputed that such views were anti-Semitic because, Cannon said, Black people are the “true Hebrews.”
“It’s never hate speech. You can’t be anti-Semitic when we are the Semitic people,” he said. “When we are the same people who they want to be. That’s our birthright. We are the true Hebrews.”
On Monday Cannon posted a series of tweets about the controversy, writing “Anyone who knows me knows that I have no hate in my heart nor malice intentions.”
“I do not condone hate speech nor the spread of hateful rhetoric,” he wrote. “We are living in a time when it is more important than ever to promote unity and understanding.”
He added that he is “an advocate for people’s voices to be heard openly, fairly and candidly.”
“In today’s conversation about anti-racism and social justice, I think we all including myself must continue educating one another & embrace uncomfortable conversations it’s the only way we ALL get better,” he wrote. “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. “
ViacomCBS has had a professional relationship with Cannon for several years.
It is the parent company of multiple networks including Nickelodeon, on which Cannon appeared as an actor starting in the 1990s and where he later served as an executive.
ViacomCBS also owns MTV, where Cannon’s comedy sketch series “Wild ‘N Out” has been popular since its debut in 2005 and recently expanded to its sister network, VH1.
On Wednesday Cannon shared a lengthy post titled “Truth and Reconciliation” on his official Facebook page in which he demanded full ownership of his “Wild ‘N Out” brand and said ViacomCBS was “now on the wrong side of history.”
“I don’t blame any individual, I blame the oppressive and racist infrastructure,” Cannon wrote.
“Systemic racism is what this world was built on and was the subject in which I was attempting to highlight in the recent clips that have been circulating from my podcast. If I have furthered the hate speech, I wholeheartedly apologize.”
He also specifically apologized to the Jewish community.
“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. “I have dedicated my daily efforts to continuing conversations to bring the Jewish Community and the African American community closer together, embracing our differences and sharing our commonalities.”
CNN has reached out to reps for Cannon and ViacomCBS for additional comment.
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