Sharon Osbourne is facing backlash following her treatment of her “The Talk” co-host Sheryl Underwood in a discussion about accusations of racism against Piers Morgan.
“I feel like I’m 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,” Osbourne said during Wednesday’sepisode, referring to Morgan, her former “America’s Got Talent” co-judge, in a conversation about Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s tell-all Oprah Winfrey interview.
USA TODAY has reached out to representatives for Osbourne, Underwood and “The Talk” for comment.
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Osbourne previously showed support for Morgan after the TV host exited ITV’s “Good Morning Britain” following comments he made on-air saying he didn’t “believe a word” Meghan said in Sunday’s two-hour long, revelatory interview about her experience with the monarchy.
The two most significant allegations Meghan made in the interview concerned her description of the palace’s cold indifference to her mental stress, and their claim that an unnamed royal family member expressed “concern” about “how dark” their son Archie’s skin would be.
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Speaking Wednesday on “The Talk,” Osbourne said she didn’t “agree with what he said,” but supported her friend’s “freedom of speech.”
When asked by Underwood what she would say to people who felt it was racist to defend a person making such comments, Osbourne replied: “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?”
“Well–” Underwood began, before Osbourne cut her off: “Well, what?”
Underwood sent the show to commercial as Osbourne continued speaking loudly over her. Upon returning, Osbourne again prodded her co-host.
“I will ask you again, Sheryl, I was asking you during the break and I’m asking you again. And don’t try and cry, because if anyone should be crying, it should be me,” she said, raising her voice. “This is the situation: you tell me where you have heard him say – educate me. Tell me when you have heard him say racist things. Educate me. Tell me.”
Speaking calmly, Underwood told Osbourne it isn’t “the exact words of racism,” but rather the “implication and the reaction to it.”
She added: “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. But right now, I’m talking to a woman who I believe is my friend and I don’t want anybody here to watch this and say that we’re attacking you for being racist. And for that, if I articulated anything –”
Osbourne scoffed and cut her off again: “I think it’s too late. I think that seed is already sown.”
Underwood clarified that she has previously spoken about her own feelings that Morgan’s stance on Duchess Meghan was racist, but that she had already prefaced her statements by telling Osbourne she has “never heard you utter anything racist.”
“Oh please. Sheryl, please,” Osbourne interjected.
More:Some people don’t believe Meghan was suicidal. Why that’s so dangerous.
The clip trended Thursday on Twitter: Many social media users were critical of Osbourne’s approach, who repeatedly spoke over her co-host, “telling a black woman not to cry and demanding a definition of racism,” as writer and comedian Rae Sanni wrote.
“White women are something else,” she added. “Your tears are weapons.”
“What Sharon Osbourne did to @sherylunderwood & @ElaineWelteroth was disgusting,” Twitter user @Emme52294 wrote. “You don’t demand POC educate you on racism. She lost complete control. I was heartbroken watching them have to sit there& take it. Case again of a white woman weaponizing her tears against black women.”
“No one should be surprised by Sharon Osbourne’s behavior,” added journalist Shar Jossell. “She has been consistently loud in her willful stupidity (about race) throughout the years. The public gaslighting might be a new lil twist tho. Sheryl, I am so sorry.”
Contributing: Elise Brisco