The Talk's Elaine Welteroth Speaks Out Following Leaked Audio of Her Consoling Sharon Osbourne
In a report published by the Daily Mail on Thursday, Elaine Welteroth is heard talking with a sobbing Sharon Osbourne immediately after the tense March 10 discussion with Sheryl Underwood
In a report published by The Daily Mail on Thursday, Welteroth is heard talking with a sobbing Osbourne, 68, immediately after the tense March 10 discussion with Underwood, during which the former Osbournes star defended friend Piers Morgan in the wake of his controversial comments about Meghan Markle.
"I thought we had closed the painful, public chapter of the controversy related to the March 10th show," Welteroth, 34, said in a statement to Entertainment Tonight. "Today, however, I learned that my private comments made moments after the incident from a place of compassion to a then-colleague (the most senior level co-host on The Talk) were recorded —without my consent or knowledge—and shared with the media."
In the audio, the Project Runway judge claimed that producers asked for her to initiate the conversation that subsequently turned south.
"They asked me to ask that question. I said, 'No I'm not going to ask that question,'" Welteroth said to Osbourne in the recording. "I said, 'Wait, what's the intention of this conversation? Because this can go left so fast. … I said to them, 'This is going to be a train wreck.'"
"Sharon I'm just so sorry that went the way that it went," Welteroth added as Osbourne responded, "Do you know what it is, though? When you have to sit there and defend yourself, it makes you look guilty because you can't get out of it."
The recording also captured Welteroth telling Osbourne, "I know you're upset. I know it was terrible, but I just hope that once this blows over that you know Sheryl is your friend. She really is your friend. She doesn't think you're racist. I don't think you're racist. No one who knows you would ever say that or feed that."
Replied Osbourne: "But why couldn't she have said, 'I've known you for 11 years, I know you are not racist,' instead of 'I don't think you are, no, I know you aren't.' There's a huge difference."
Reps for Welteroth and The Talk did not immediately return PEOPLE's request for comment.
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Welteroth said in her statement to ET that she initially refrained from publicly addressing the controversy surrounding Osbourne, but "I reluctantly wade into this now simply to ensure that, as a Black woman, I am not silenced or side-lined," she explained.
"What I am sharing today is consistent with what I have already shared on camera. Nothing has changed," the former Teen Vogue editor-in-chief stated. "It is not news that I did not call Sharon a racist and it is certainly not news that the way the show unfolded caught us all by surprise. None of us wanted that day to go how it did and I do not regret sharing these feelings in a private conversation with a colleague. I welcome fair, constructive dialogue and I am no stranger to tough conversations about race. But I will not be vilified for telling the truth, on or off-air."
She continued, "To set the record straight, it was not a hot mic — I was unlawfully recorded without consent. And I never filed a complaint with HR against Sharon Osbourne or anyone else. I am disheartened, however, that my kindness has been taken out of context and weaponized in an attempt to absolve responsibility for someone else's actions. I was honored to join The Talk to add my voice to important and lively conversations. I am so excited about the next chapter with our new co-host Jerry O'Connell and I am grateful for the new perspectives he will bring to the show."
During the infamous March episode, Osbourne got into an intense exchange with Underwood, 57, as she voiced her support for Morgan, 56. On his own former show, Good Morning Britain, Morgan questioned the validity of Markle's revelations about her mental health during her interview with Oprah Winfrey.
On Wednesday, Jerry O'Connell was announced as The Talk's newest co-host.