Nick Cannon Refuses To Be Silenced By NBC. He Leaves America’s Got Talent
After eight years of hosting America’s Got Talent for NBC, Nick Cannon has left the show, amidst a firestorm. Today, Cannon posted a searing message on Facebook and other social platforms, explaining his departure:
“I write this from a deeply saddened and dolorous mindset. After days of deliberating over some extremely disappointing news that I was being threatened with termination by Executives because of a comedy special that was only intended to bring communities closer together, I was to be punished for a joke. This has weighed heavy on my spirit. It was brought to my attention by my ‘team’ that NBC believed that I was in breach of contract because I had disparaged their brand. In my defense, I would ask how so? Or is this just another way to silence and control an outspoken voice who often battles the establishment. Recently many of my mentors have cautioned me that soon ‘The System’ would come down on me because I was speaking too many truths and being to loud about it. I had no idea that it all would hit so close to home. I find myself in a dark place having to make a decision that I wish I didn’t have to, but as a man, an artist, and a voice for my community I will not be silenced, controlled or treated like a piece of property. There is no amount of money worth my dignity or my integrity. I have loved hosting America’s Got Talent for the last eight seasons, watching talented, brave, and courageous Americans accomplish their dreams in front of millions has been nothing but a joy, and everyone has been a pleasure to work with but my soul won’t allow me to be in business with corporations that attempt to frown on freedom of speech, censor artists, and question cultural choices. Not to get too detailed but this isn’t the first time executives have attempted to ‘put me in my place’ for so-called unruly actions. I will not stand for it. My moral principles will easily walk away from the millions of dollars they hang over my head. It’s never been about the money for me, what is difficult to walk away from is the fans, the people who love me on the show. This hurts tremendously. I felt like I was apart of the fabric of our great nation every summer, representing every culture, age, gender, and demographic. Now for the rug to be pulled from underneath me and to be publicly reprimanded and ridiculed over a joke about my own race is completely wrong and I have to do something about it. I have fought many battles in my career and have never been afraid to go up against the system. I have mulled over my process for days and felt it was best to once again speak my mind about an unjust infrastructure that treat talent like they own them. Maybe it was my mistake for signing the contract in the first place, in which I will take full responsibility and have already taken action to restructure my own team of advisors. I now have to set out on a journey of freedom as an artist. As I was quoted in a recent interview, ‘You can’t fire a Boss!’ and that is the essence that I possess. So I wish A.G.T. and NBC the best in its upcoming season but I cannot see myself returning. As of lately I have even questioned if I want to even be apart of an industry who ultimately treats artists in this manner. Most of us don’t realize that there are six major corporations that control 90% of media in America and the amount of minority executives is dismal. With this being the case, true equality in our industry is impossible. There will always be a ‘do as I say’ mentality that mirrors society’s perception of women and minorities, and only a few will stand up against it. I proudly stand as one of those few, and will gladly take on whatever repercussions that come with it. I love art and entertainment too much to watch it be ruined by controlling corporations and big business. I believe It’s our duty as artists to make a difference and create change even if it’s one act at a time. Dr. King said it best, ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.‘”
Apparently, after making a joke during a comedy special recorded for the Showtime network, Cannon was reprimanded by executives at NBC, the network that airs America’s Got Talent. In the joke, during the special titled Stand Up, Don’t Shoot, Cannon reportedly said, “But I honestly believe, once I started doing America’s Got Talent, they took my ‘real nigga’ card. They did! Because then like these type of people started showing up to my shows,” Cannon said in the special as he jokingly pointed to three older white audience members in the front row. “I can’t do the real nigga stuff no more, because then they’ll put me on TMZ.”
For decades, comedians from Redd Foxx to Richard Pryor to Eddie Murphy to Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle and more have used comedy to discuss issues about race. Comedy has always been a potent vehicle for addressing many complexities in life. In a world where our president is criticizing clothing stores, TV shows and news outlets by name, there is a dangerous shroud of censorship hanging in the air. Cannon’s decision to walk away from millions to protect a civil liberty central is a powerful statement that reminds us all of the sacrifices we must be prepared to make to protect our freedom.
Nick Cannon joined A.G.T. in 2009, after previous hosts were Regis Philbin (Season 1) and Jerry Springer (Seasons 2 and 3). Cannon currently hosts and produces Wild ‘n Out, a series he created in 2005 that currently airs on MTV 2. Last November, he released his most recent musical project, mixtape The Gospel of Ike Turn Up: My Side of the Story, which features Gucci Mane, Jeremih, and Sy Ari Da Kid, among others.