Ranking TV Host Controversies of 2021: ‘The Bachelor,’ ‘Jeopardy!’ & More
Last year, the allegations of toxicity at The Ellen DeGeneres Show made for one of the biggest television controversies of the year. In 2021, however, that scandal has taken a back seat to other TV host snafus.
While The View is a fount of constant drama, we wouldn’t have expected to see the once-esteemed Jeopardy! brought low by a disastrous host-selection process. And suffice it to say, the bloom is off the rose for a certain Bachelor host.
Below, we’re ranking 2021’s TV host controversies, not by how offensive they were — because, let’s face it, most were pretty offensive — but by how much they seemed to dominate headlines this year.
Ellen DeGeneres calls out “orchestrated” and “misogynistic” press coverage after allegations of a toxic workplace culture at her talk show
In July 2020, a bombshell BuzzFeed News article detailed accusations of racism and intimidation behind the scenes of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, with one current and 10 former employees sharing horror stories from the set. A subsequent WarnerMedia investigation led to the ouster of three Ellen executive producers, and host Ellen DeGeneres publicly addressed the PR nightmare in her syndicated talk show’s Season 18 premiere.
2021, by comparison, was a calmer year for The Ellen DeGeneres Show, but in a Today interview this May, DeGeneres said negative press around her and the show felt “too orchestrated” and “too coordinated.”
She explained: “People get picked on, but for four months straight for me. And then for me to read in the press about a toxic work environment when all I’ve ever heard from every guest that comes on the show is what a happy atmosphere this is and what a happy place this is. … And also, I have to say if nobody else is saying it, it was really interesting because I’m a woman, and it did feel very misogynistic.”
Wendy Williams makes “disrespectful” comments about dead TikTok star on her talk show
Wendy Williams sparked backlash for a July segment on The Wendy Williams Show in which she reported on the shooting death of 19-year-old TikTok star Matima “Swavy” Miller. She eventually announced the sad news — but not before claiming that no one in the studio knew who Swavy was, and then confirming that Williams had more Instagram followers than he did.
Chanelle Clark, Miller’s mom, criticized the talk show host in a CBS3 interview. “Like, as a mother, Wendy Williams, how dare you?” Clark said. “So disrespectful. I used to watch you as a child, and even though you have a gossip show and all that, you didn’t even know my son.”
James Corden comes under fire for “Spill Your Guts” segments featuring food from Asian cultures
More than 47,000 people signed a petition calling out James Corden for The Late Late Show’s recurring “Spill Your Guts” segment, noting that delicacies from Asian cultures — including balut, chicken feet, and century eggs — ranked among the foods that are meant to be “gross.”
In an interview with Howard Stern this July, the late-night host didn’t apologize, but he did promise changes. “The next time we do that bit, we absolutely won’t involve or use any of those foods,” he said, per NBC News. “Our show is a show about joy and light and love — we don’t want to make a show to upset anybody.”
Meghan McCain makes an acrimonious exit from The View and says it’s a toxic workplace
Meghan McCain departed The View after four seasons in August, later attributing the decision to her on-air hostility with former co-hosts Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg and their “open disdain” for her, per USA Today. And she slammed her former workplace again in her Audible memoir Bad Republican.
“[The View] is billed as an arena for women to share and discuss their views on politics and the most important topics of the day, an arena historically occupied by men, a space where women support and respectfully challenge each other,” she said in the memoir. “But, the truth is that the environment on the show is toxic.”
Sharon Osbourne exits The Talk after arguing with Sheryl Underwood about racism
Sharon Osbourne got testy with Sheryl Underwood in a March episode of The Talk, complaining that she didn’t understand criticisms that her friend Piers Morgan’s comments about Meghan Markle were racist. Underwood kept her cool, but Osbourne repeatedly talked over her and even appeared to drop obscenities during the heated exchange. And at one point, she told Underwood, “Don’t try and cry, because if anyone should be crying, it’s me.”
Two weeks later, following a Talk hiatus and a network investigation, CBS announced that Osborne had decided to leave the talk show. “The events of the March 10 broadcast were upsetting to everyone involved, including the audience watching at home,” CBS added. “As part of our review, we concluded that Sharon’s behavior toward her co-hosts during the March 10 episode did not align with our values for a respectful workplace.”
Chris Harrison exits the Bachelor franchise after arguing with Rachel Lindsay about racism
In an Extra interview, this February, the former Bachelor Nation host Chris Harrison got into a debate with former Bachelorette star Rachel Lindsay about a photo of then-current Bachelor contestant Rachel Kirkconnell at an antebellum-themed frat party in 2018. During that conversation, Harrison said that “we all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion” toward Kirkconnell and dubbed the contestant’s critics the “woke police.”
Following the interview, Lindsay cut ties with the Bachelor franchise, and Harrison said he’d be “stepping aside” from his hosting duties “for a period of time.”
In June, however, Harrison’s exile from the franchise became permanent, with Deadline reporting that the former host got an eight-figure payoff under an agreement not to talk publicly about the behind-the-scenes drama.
Chris Cuomo loses his job over aiding his brother’s defense against sexual harassment allegations
In May, CNN said it was “inappropriate” for Cuomo Prime Time host Chris Cuomo to participate in strategy calls about the sexual harassment accusations facing his older brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
But between late November and early December, CNN suspended and then fired the younger Cuomo after documents released by New York Attorney General Letitia James detailed how involved he was in his brother’s defense against the allegations.
“Chris Cuomo was suspended earlier this week pending further evaluation of new information that came to light about his involvement with his brother’s defense,” CNN said in a December 4 statement, per CNN Business. “We retained a respected law firm to conduct the review, and have terminated him, effective immediately.”
And then there are those sexual harassment accusations facing the former CNN host himself…
Mike Richards becomes Jeopardy! host — and then loses the job almost immediately
Jeopardy! spent most of the year rotating through guest hosts filling in for longtime emcee Alex Trebek, who died in November 2020. In August, Sony Pictures Television named Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards as the permanent host of the syndicated game show, raising questions about the fairness of the selection process.
But Richards only filmed a day’s worth of episodes as permanent host: He departed the role later that month after media reports shed light on sexist, antisemitic, and racist comments he had made in podcast episodes years prior. And at the end of August, Sony revealed that Richards would no longer be an executive producer on Jeopardy! or Wheel of Fortune, either.
Which host controversy of 2021 shocked you the most? Sound off in the comments below.