CBS Launches Internal Review After Sharon Osbourne's Heated Debate with Sheryl Underwood on The Talk
Following an intense exchange between Sharon Osbourne and Sheryl Underwood about the backlash surrounding Piers Morgan and his comments about Meghan Markle on Wednesday's episode of The Talk, CBS has launched an internal review into the matter.
"We are committed to a diverse, inclusive and respectful workplace," the network said in a statement provided to PEOPLE on Friday night. "All matters related to the Wednesday episode of The Talk are currently under internal review."
During Wednesday's episode of The Talk, Osbourne, 68, said that she had been accused of being racist after voicing her support for Morgan, 55, in the wake of criticism about his controversial response to Markle's recent interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Morgan faced widespread criticism for comments he made about Markle, including questioning her authenticity in discussing her mental health struggles, on Good Morning Britain earlier this week. After his co-host Alex Beresford called him out on-air, Morgan stormed off set. Following the incident, it was announced that Morgan would be leaving his post at the ITV morning news show.
"Did I like everything he said? Did I agree with what he said? No," Osbourne said of Morgan's remarks on The Talk. "It's not my opinion ... I support him for his freedom of speech, and he's my friend."
Underwood then pushed back and questioned Osbourne: "What would you say to people who may feel that while you're standing by your friend, it appears you gave validation or safe haven to something that he has uttered that is racist, even if you don't agree?"
Their conversation quickly turned emotional, with Osbourne telling Underwood to explain when Morgan had said something racist.
"I will ask you again Sheryl, I've been asking you during the break and I'm asking you again, and don't try and cry 'cause if anyone should be crying it should be me," Osbourne said with tears in her eyes. "Educate me! Tell me when you have heard him say racist things."
Underwood then responded that "it is not the exact words of racism, it's the implication and the reaction to it."
"To not want to address that because she is a Black woman, and to try to dismiss it or to make it seem less than what it is, that's what makes it racist," Underwood explained. "But right now, I'm talking to a woman I believe is my friend and I don't want anybody here to watch this and think we are attacking you for being racist."
Following the on-air debate, Osbourne issued a statement apologizing for any harm she may have caused in supporting Morgan.
"After some reflection, after sitting with your comments & sitting with my heart, I would like to address the discussion on The Talk this past Wednesday," she wrote in a statement posted to Twitter on Thursday night. "I have always been embraced with so much love & support from the black community & I have deep respect & love for the black community."
"To anyone of color that I offended and/or to anyone that feels confused or let down by what I said, I am truly sorry. I panicked, felt blindsided, got defensive & allowed my fear & horror of being accused of being racist take over," Osbourne continued. "There are very few things that hurt my heart more than racism so to feel associated with that spun me fast. I am not perfect, I am still learning like the rest of us & will continue to learn, listen and do better."
Underwood spoke about her on-air exchange with Osbourne on a Friday episode of her The World According To Sheryl podcast, saying that she had kept her composure during the chat because she considers her co-host a "friend."
"I thought we were having a conversation like we normally do. But then I got a feeling that, wait a minute, this ain't what it usually is," she explained. "I also got another feeling of, okay, Sheryl, this is time for you to step up into the leadership position … this is time for you to show what you're made of, and in a personal way. No matter what somebody says about you, I can show you something better than I can tell you."
During an appearance on The Steve Harvey Morning Show that same day, Underwood also said, "I just wanted to be a better example for people that are working just a regular old job, that had to compose themselves."
"We are the only race of people that carry the race wherever we go, and we're responsible for that," she said. "And I want to thank everybody all over the world in social media, everybody in radio, television, news, everywhere, everybody that reached out."