She built her brand on her kind and bubbly persona, but Ellen DeGeneres is losing ‘credibility’ and her ‘moral high ground’ amid ongoing allegations of bullying and racism, an expert has claimed.
“Authenticity is king with celebrity brands and these continued leaks are lacerating her credibility and mangling her capacity to continue to try to be positioned at a high moral ground,” Eric Schiffer, chairman of Reputation Management Consultants, told Fox News.
In Schiffer’s opinion, the numerous damning reports by current and former employees of the TV host’s ‘mean’ behaviour — and the show’s ‘toxic’ environment in general — have done irreparable damage to Ellen’s squeaky clean image.
“It's celebrity brand suicide,” he said.
Schiffer also addressed the recent apology made by the show’s senior producers, saying that it only reflected poorly on Ellen.
“Ellen is unwilling herself to accept full responsibility and is trying to get her senior producers to take the full hit which further shows a lack of character,” he explained.
Ellen employees reveal all
Schiffer’s comments come after one current and ten former employees of The Ellen DeGeneres Show anonymously came forward to reveal just how ‘toxic’ the work environment actually is.
The employees came forward to Buzzfeed News and revealed that working on the show isn't what viewers would likely expect with some revealing they were fired for taking medical leave, bereavement days, faced microagressions and more.
While the employees didn't make specific claims against Ellen herself, they did reveal that they were told not to speak to her when she was in the office.
One former employee revealed that the heart of the ‘toxic’ environment is the show’s executive producers, not Ellen herself.
“People focus on rumours about how Ellen is mean and everything like that, but that's not the problem,” they said.
“The issue is these three executive producers running the show who are in charge of all these people [and] who make the culture and are putting out this feeling of bullying and being mean. They feel that everybody who works at The Ellen Show is lucky to work there: ‘So if you have a problem, you should leave because we'll hire someone else because everybody wants to work here,’” they added.
A Black woman who worked on the show said she was ‘reprimanded’ when she asked one of the show’s executive producers, Ed Glavinfor, a raise and for suggesting staff members should be undergoing diversity and inclusion training – for which she was labelled ‘the PC police’.
She added that when she was hired, a senior-level producer said to her and another Black employee, “Oh wow, you both have box braids; I hope we don’t get you confused.” And at a work party, she said, one of the show's writers told her, “I’m sorry, I only know the names of the white people who work here.”
Another former employee revealed that they took one-month medical leave following a suicide attempt. When they returned to work, they were told their position was being eliminated.
Someone else said they were fired after taking three days off for medical leave following a car accident, as well as working remotely for two days to attend a family funeral and taking another three days off for another family funeral.
Ellen producers ‘heartbroken’
In response to the allegations, the show’s executive producers Ed Glavin, Mary Connelly and Andy Lassner shared a joint statement to the website, which said they were ‘heartbroken’ and were taking the stories ‘very seriously’.
"Over the course of nearly two decades, 3,000 episodes, and employing over 1000 staff members, we have strived to create an open, safe, and inclusive work environment," they said.
"We are truly heartbroken and sorry to learn that even one person in our production family has had a negative experience. It’s not who we are and not who we strive to be, and not the mission Ellen has set for us.
"For the record, the day to day responsibility of the Ellen show is completely on us. We take all of this very seriously and we realize, as many in the world are learning, that we need to do better, are committed to do better, and we will do better."
Calls for Ellen to step up
One employee told Buzzfeed News that Ellen has the power to improve things if she was just more involved.
“If she wants to have her own show and have her name on the show title, she needs to be more involved to see what's going on,” they said.
“I think the executive producers surround her and tell her, ‘Things are going great, everybody's happy,' and she just believes that, but it's her responsibility to go beyond that,” they added.
The allegations against The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Ellen herself first arose back in May through a Twitter thread, which asked people to respond with ‘insane stories’ they’d heard about Ellen ‘being mean’.
People responded with allegations of wild demands the star has reportedly made and what she was really like on the set of the show.
Tom Majercak, a former security guard who worked for Ellen and her family when she hosted the 2014 Academy Awards, also came forward and alleged to Fox News that the star was ‘very cold’.
A source close to the star revealed that she’s struggling with the rumours and is reportedly ‘at the end of her rope’.
Additional reporting by Marni Dixit.