ABC News suspended “The View” host Whoopi Goldberg for two weeks on Tuesday night, hours after she apologized for having falsely declared on the daytime program that the Holocaust was “not about race.”
In a statement, ABC News president Kim Godwin bluntly described Goldberg’s comments about the Holocaust, which were made on “The View” Monday, as “wrong and hurtful.”
“While Whoopi has apologized, I’ve asked her to take time to reflect and learn about the impact of her comments,” Godwin said. “The entire ABC News organization stands in solidarity with our Jewish colleagues, friends, family and communities.”
Godwin told staff in an internal email, which was obtained by CNN, that decisions over disciplinary matters are “never easy.” And Godwin said that she appreciated Goldberg’s apology.
“But words matter and we must be cognizant of the impact our words have,” Godwin told staffers in her memo explaining the network’s decision to suspend the actor and comedian.
Goldberg first drew backlash on Monday morning when she insisted that the Holocaust was “not about race,” but rather “man’s inhumanity to man.” Goldberg later went on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” where she attempted to explain the rationale for her comments. But what she said on that show only exacerbated the situation.
But later Monday night, as the controversy continued to grow, Goldberg issued a written apology. In it, she said she erred in her remarks and understood why they were wrong.
“I’m sorry for the hurt I have caused,” Goldberg said in her written statement.
Hours later, Goldberg opened up Tuesday’s episode of “The View” offering yet another apology.
“I said something that I feel a responsibility for not leaving unexamined, because my words upset so many people, which was never my intention,” Goldberg said. “I understand why now, and for that I am deeply, deeply grateful because the information I got was really helpful, and it helped me understand some different things.”
“I said the Holocaust wasn’t about race and was instead about man’s inhumanity to man,” Goldberg added. “But it is indeed about race because Hitler and the Nazis considered Jews to be an inferior race.”
She continued, “Now, words matter and mine are no exception. I regret my comments, as I said, and I stand corrected. I also stand with the Jewish people as they know and y’all know, because I’ve always done that.”
After her on-air apology, Goldberg hosted a discussion with Anti-Defamation League president Jonathan Greenblatt. Greenblatt later said on Twitter that he accepted Goldberg’s apology.
But Goldberg’s initial comments had still roiled staffers across ABC News. Some staffers believed disciplinary action was warranted, according to people familiar with the matter who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to publicly comment on the matter.
Others, however, came to Goldberg’s defense and noted that her comments were made out of ignorance, not malice. One ABC News staffer told CNN that Goldberg had apologized and appeared to learn from her mistake, which they believed was key in evaluating whether to accept her apology.
Ana Navarro, a CNN political commentator who regularly guest hosts on “The View,” separately told CNN that Goldberg’s colleagues “know what’s in her heart” and that she’s “not an anti-Semite.”
“When you have five women, discussing complex topics, in five-minute segments on unscripted, live TV, sometimes things come out the wrong way,” Navarro said. “We are human and make mistakes. The difference between us and others is, we acknowledge it and try to correct it. Whoopi clarified and apologized without caveats.”
Ultimately, however, after staying silent for most of the day, Godwin notified employees that she had made the decision to take disciplinary action.
Greenblatt said on “Don Lemon Tonight” Tuesday night that he could not comment on ABC News’ “internal process,” but that he hoped Goldberg uses the two-week suspension “for a process of introspection and learning.” Greenblatt added that he understands public figures “can say clumsy things about race or faith or gender.”
“I don’t believe in cancel culture,” Greenblatt said. “I like the phrase that my friend Nick Cannon uses: We need counsel culture. We shouldn’t cancel Whoopi because she made a mistake.”
Goldberg has survived a number of controversies throughout her nearly 15 years on “The View.”
In 2009 she remarked that Roman Polanski was not guilty of “rape-rape,” a comment which she later clarified. Goldberg also initially defended Bill Cosby as he faced sexual assault accusations, a position she ultimately reversed.