Ellen DeGeneres told Savannah Guthrie on Today that she is still surprised by attacks on her and reports of her show’s workplace environment as “toxic,” but that it was not the reason for her decision to end her long-running daytime talk show.
In the sit down, conducted on the set of DeGeneres’ show, Guthrie asked DeGeneres if she felt she was “being canceled.”
DeGeneres addressed social media negativity around her personally, which was followed months later by allegations of a toxic work environment on the show.
“I mean, I really don’t understand it. I still don’t understand it,” DeGeneres said. “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.”
DeGeneres will make the announcement to viewers on Thursday of her decision to end the show after next season, the 19th.
The announcement came after reports of a toxic workplace and an internal investigation by Warner Bros. Staff changes were made to the show, including ousting longtime executive producers, and DeGeneres apologized to her staff.
DeGeneres told Guthrie that “if it was why I was quitting, I would have not come back this year. I really did think about not coming back. It was devastating. I am a kind person. I am a person who likes to make people happy. 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. 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.”
Guthrie said that “there probably people who are thinking, ‘How could you not know. And if you didn’t know, should you have known?”
DeGeneres responded, “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.'”
Guthrie noted that DeGeneres faced a career crisis before, when she came out on her ABC sitcom in 1997, sponsors pulled ads and the show was canceled.
“My therapist is like, you know very few people go through such huge public humiliation twice in a lifetime,” DeGeneres said.
“Isn’t the therapist supposed to help you?” Guthrie asked.
“She’s making me aware that I am supposed to experience this for a bigger reason. 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,” DeGeneres said.
“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.” A rep for DeGeneres said that she was referring to negativity in social media and other coverage.
She added, “I am not bulletproof, and no I do not have a thick skin. I am extremely sensitive, to the point where it is not healthy how sensitive I am. When something is coming back at me that I know is not true, I guess I could take one or two of those shots, but four months in a row took a toll on me.”