The controversy began on the March 10 episode of the CBS daytime talk show, when Osbourne defended her friend Piers Morgan over his criticism of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. He had referred to the two-hour interview she and Prince Harry gave to Oprah Winfrey as “nauseating cynical race-baiting propaganda” and accused Megan of lying about her mental health struggles.
“What would you say to people who may feel that, while you’re standing by your friend, it appears that you give validation or safe haven to something that he has uttered that is racist, even if you don’t agree?” Underwood said to Osbourne, who asked for clarification as to what he said that was racist. Osbourne added that she felt as though she were in “the electric chair” and demanded of Underwood, who is Black, “How can I be racist to anybody or anything in my life?”
“Don’t try and cry,” Osbourne said. “If anyone should be crying, it should be me.”
Soon afterward, she issued a public apology to “anyone of color that I offended and/or to anyone that feels confused or let down by what I said.” But following backlash from viewers questioning how Osbourne had wielded her privilege as a White woman against Underwood, CBS put the show on hiatus and launched an internal review. On March 26, the network announced Osbourne would be leaving the show. Her behavior “did not align with our values for a respectful workplace,” according to the statement, which also countered some of Osbourne’s separate claims by adding that CBS executives had not “orchestrated the discussion or blindsided any of the hosts.”
On her podcast, Underwood reinforced that she had been moderating the March 10 episode on her own, and that “none” of the questions had come from executives. She said she had worked to frame the discussion in a way that wouldn’t be “perceived as attacking,” but that ultimately the way the heated conversation and ensuing backlash unfolded was “out of my control.”
“Sometimes you don’t want to know what you know,” Underwood said. “You don’t want to feel and hear what you feel and hear, don’t want to accept what you have to accept.”
She said on the podcast that she hadn’t spoken to Osbourne since the heated conversation, and that the reality star hadn’t reached out to apologize. Osbourne denied the accuracy of those statements in an interview with the Daily Mail, sharing screenshots of text messages to Underwood from mid-March: “Why are you trying to destroy my reputation?” Osbourne added during the interview.
Amid the controversy, Holly Robinson Peete, one of the original co-hosts of “The Talk,” tweeted that she was “mortified” watching the episode. She and Leah Remini were cut from the show after its first season, and Peete wrote on Twitter that Osbourne had complained she was too “ghetto.” (Osbourne also denied having described Peete this way, and said she didn’t try to get her fired.)
Underwood referred to Osbourne as a friend during the March 10 episode as well as on her podcast, where she noted that she “still love[s] the Osbournes” despite what happened.
“I don’t know anything other than what I’ve experienced with them, and this thing that has happened is disappointing to me,” Underwood said. “I’m not saying I liked being treated the way I was treated. Let me be clear — I’m very disappointed, and I’m just trying to navigate my feelings about that because it was trauma.”