Famous people want the world to know that Ellen DeGeneres is nice to famous people. Addressing media reports alleging a culture of harassment and bullying at DeGeneres’s talk show, the singer Katy Perry tweeted Tuesday that she’s “only ever had positive takeaways from my time with Ellen.” Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Hart, Jay Leno, Diane Keaton, and the superstar agent Scooter Braun have all recently made similar declarations about DeGeneres’s kindness, so as to push back against claims painting her as callous toward staffers, fans, and other entertainment-industry figures. “Looking forward to the future where we get back to loving one another,” Hart wrote, blasting those who have criticized DeGeneres and called for her to step down. “This hate shit has to stop.”
For all of this defense squadron’s star wattage, they’ve succeeded only in underscoring the point of the backlash against DeGeneres. What’s been alleged isn’t that she’s mishandled her celebrity guests. It’s that the reality-distortion field of celebrity has led to the harm of regular people—and that DeGeneres’s private conduct is out of line with her glad-handing persona.
In two recent BuzzFeed articles, former and current Ellen DeGeneres Show employees describe sexual harassment by three top producers, racism against a Black staffer, and a generally abusive workplace at which, to cite one anecdote, a manager allegedly once flipped a table in rage. Two alleged sexual harassers, the producers Jonathan Norman and Kevin Leman, have denied misconduct; one, Ed Glavin, hasn’t commented on the harassment allegations and is reported to be leaving his job. WarnerMedia, the show’s parent company, has launched an investigation. And DeGeneres, in a statement to her staff, expressed regret that any behind-the-scenes mayhem happened without her knowledge, saying, “My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that.”