Cannon, who hosts ViacomCBS shows including Wild ‘n’ Out, sparked controversy after publishing a conversation to his YouTube channel with former Public Enemy member Professor Griff. The interaction saw Cannon claim that white and Jewish people in positions of power have a “lack of compassion” as they do not have melanin in their skin.
“They’re acting out of fear, they’re acting out of low self-esteem, they’re acting out of a deficiency,” Cannon said. “So, therefore, the only way that they can act is evil. They have to rob, steal, rape, kill in order to survive. So then, these people that didn’t have what we have – and when I say we, I speak of the melanated people – they had to be savages.”
He continued: “I say all that to say, the context in which we speak, whether it’s Jewish people, white people, Europeans, the illuminati, they were doing that as survival tactics to stay on the planet. We never had to do that.”
Cannon also said that black people are “the true Hebrews” and referenced a number of antisemitic conspiracy theories, including “the Rothschilds, centralised banking, the 13 families, the bloodlines that control everything even outside of America”. He additionally condemned “giving too much power to the ‘they’,” adding: “And then the ‘they’ turns into illuminati, the Zionists, the Rothschilds.”
In a statement, CBSViacom said they were ending their involvement with Cannon.
“While we support ongoing education and dialogue in the fight against bigotry, we are deeply troubled that Nick has failed to acknowledge or apologise for perpetuating antisemitism, and we are terminating our relationship with him.”
Following an earlier backlash to the video, Cannon condemned hate speech on his Facebook page and denied having “hate in [his] heart nor malice intentions”. In a separate interview with Fast Company, however, he declined to apologise for his YouTube statements.
“Are you forcing me to say the words ‘I’m sorry’?” he asked. “Are you making me bow down, ’cause then again, that would be perpetuating that same rhetoric that we’re trying to get away from. What we need is healing. What we need is discussion. Correct me. I don’t tell my children to say, ‘I’m sorry.’ I want them to understand where they need to be corrected. And then that’s how we grow.”
Cannon, who has two children with former wife Mariah Carey, also hosts the US version of The Masked Singer, and previously presented America’s Got Talent.