Sharon Osbourne claims CBS executives directed the producers of The Talk to "blindside" her with questions about Piers Morgan during Wednesday's controversial discussion on the show, saying she "felt like a lamb held out for slaughter."
On Friday, the longtime co-host of the CBS talk show told Variety, "I was blindsided, totally blindsided by the whole situation. In my 11 years, this was the first time I was not involved with the planning the segment," and added, "I blame the network for it."
On Wednesday's episode of The Talk, Osbourne had a heated exchange with co-host Sheryl Underwood about her defense of Morgan, who made controversial remarks about Meghan Markle in the wake of the Duchess's recent interview with Oprah Winfrey.
"Did I like everything he said? Did I agree with what he said? No," Osbourne said. "Because it's his opinion. It's not my opinion... I support him for his freedom of speech, and he's my friend." She added, "I'm not racist... I don't care what color or what religion anyone is. Are you a nice person? That's what I judge you on."
Underwood pushed back, asking how Osbourne would respond 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?" Both Osbourne and Underwood became visibly emotional as the conversation continued for several minutes.
Speaking to Variety, Osbourne claimed that she told The Talk's showrunners shortly before the episode began that it was fine for her to be asked about Morgan. "But then I get on there, I say my piece and Sheryl turns around straight-faced, looks at me and is reading from a card with questions," she continued. "I was just so hurt, caught off guard and stunned by what I was being asked and not prepared... I felt like I was in front of a firing squad. I felt like a lamb held out for slaughter."
"I'm a big girl. I'm a professional," she added. "However CBS blindsided me. I don't know why they did it to me. The showrunners told me it came from executives to do this to me."
Representatives for CBS and for Osbourne did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment.
Osbourne previously tweeted an apology in the wake of the discussion, writing, "To anyone of colour 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. 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."
Morgan, meanwhile, demanded an apology from the hosts of The Talk for "their disgraceful slurs" against him. "Sharon's been shamed & bullied into apologising for defending me against colleagues accusing me of racism because I don't believe Meghan Markle's bullsh*t," he tweeted.
Earlier, on the U.K. morning show Good Morning Britain, Morgan said he didn't believe that Markle struggled with mental health and thought of suicide, as she told Winfrey during their interview. He then stormed off the set of the show after a coworker called him out for his comments, and resigned from the program shortly thereafter.
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