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Sharon Osbourne leaves 'The Talk' after controversial on-air comments defending Piers Morgan


'I support him for his freedom of speech, and he's my friend.'

Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

Host Sharon Osbourne has parted ways with 'The Talk,' according to a statement released by CBS on Friday. The statement claims both that Osbourne voluntarily decided to leave the show because of the impact of her March 10th comments, and also that CBS had concluded in its review of the incident that "Sharon's behavior toward her co-hosts during the March 10 episode did not align with our values for a respectful workplace."

The decision finally closes a chapter that had seen the show take an extended hiatus after a heated on-air discussion regarding former British television personality Piers Morgan's comments about Meghan Markle, which led to his exodus from "Good Morning Britain" and an investigation by United Kingdom's regulatory agency governing telecommunications.

What happened?

In a widely publicized interview with Oprah Winfrey in early March, actress Meghan Markle, who married Prince Harry and became Duchess of Sussex in 2018, made a number of sensational claims about her time with the royal family, including accusations of racism. Morgan responded to the interview on air on March 9th by stating that he did not believe Markle's comments, which led to a controversial exchange with co-host Alex Beresford, who accused Morgan of having an axe to grind with Markle over his "personal relationship with Meghan Markle, or had one and she cut you off." Beresford continued, "Has she said anything about you since she cut you off? I don't think she has, but yet you continue to trash her."

At this point, Morgan stormed off the set of the show and announced that he was leaving the show later that day. Morgan's comments sparked an investigation by Ofcom, the British regulatory agency charged with overseeing communications in Britain, which reported that they received over 40,000 complaints about Morgan's commentary.

The following day, Osbourne and her co-hosts discussed the Morgan controversy on-air on "The Talk," which Osbourne has hosted since 2010.

Osbourne, who has been a long-time friend of Morgan, defended Morgan in an argument with co-host Sheryl Underwood that turned increasingly combative. "Did I like everything he said? Did I agree with what he said? No. Because it's his opinion. It's not my opinion… I support him for his freedom of speech, and he's my friend."

Osbourne said that she felt like she was "about to be put in the electric chair because I have a friend who many people think is a racist and that makes me a racist." Underwood then asked how she would respond to people who asserted that defending Morgan's comments were racist, to which she responded, "for me, at 68 years of age to have to turn around and say 'I ain't racist' – what's it got to do with me? How could I be racist about anybody? How could I be racist about anybody or anything in my life? How can I?"

At this point, Underwood attempted to send the show to commercial, but Osbourne repeatedly talked over her, challenging her to "educate me" and saying to a visibly upset Underwood, "Don't try and cry because if anyone should be crying, it should be me."

The next day, Osbourne issued an apology on Twitter to "anyone of color that I offended and/or to anyone that feels confused or let down by what I said." CBS announced that the show would be taking a hiatus, which was originally scheduled to last for a mere few days, while it investigated the on-air exchange, including Osbourne's contention that she was "set up" by the show's producers, who she claimed ambushed her with a topic she was not prepared to discuss. However, during the course of the investigation, other current and former hosts of the show publicly accused Osbourne of racist behavior, as well as making crude comments about the sexual orientation of actress Sara Gilbert.

CBS eventually announced that the hiatus would be extended, and as the controversy dragged on, Osbourne claimed that she was being sent out as the show's "sacrificial lamb" for having defended Morgan.

In Friday's announcement, CBS denied Osbourne's claims, saying that their internal review "did not find any evidence that CBS executives orchestrated the discussion or blindsided any of the hosts." Additionally, CBS promised that it was "coordinating workshops, listening sessions and training about equity, inclusion and cultural awareness for the hosts, producers and crew."

Osbourne did not immediately respond to requests for comment from multiple news outlets.

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