Ellen’s Exit and Why Conservatives Should Pause Before Rejoicing

Producer Ellen DeGeneres attends Netflix's season 1 premiere of "Green Eggs and Ham" at Hollywood Post 43 on November 3, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP) (Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)
VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

Since the news broke that Ellen DeGeneres would be ending her eponymous talk show after 19 seasons amid a drumbeat of accusations alleging a hostile work environment on set, there’s been no shortage of entertainment and media insiders celebrating.

But given that DeGeneres’ downfall comes almost entirely at the hands of anonymous accusers, conservatives should at least pause and ask why so many in Hollywood are happy to see her go before joining the “na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye” chorus.

As The Daily Wire previously reported, the most serious charges against DeGeneres involve, not her own actions, but those of her senior executives. Executive producer Jonathan Norman is alleged to have “groomed” an underling with gifts and concert tickets before attempting to perform oral sex on him. (I have some skepticism over applying the term grooming to an adult who accepts said gifts and outings, but that’s a topic for another time.)

One unidentified junior staffer claims head writer Kevin Leman propositioned him in a bathroom at a company Christmas party. Others, also anonymous, say they saw Leman grope an assistant and heard him make inappropriate sexual comments.

Finally, five female former employees say executive producer Ed Glavin made them uncomfortable by “rubbing their shoulders and back, as well as placing his hand around their lower waist.”

All three men deny the claims, but following an internal investigation, Warner Bros, which distributes the syndicated show, fired them.

There’s no evidence as yet that DeGeneres knew of these incidents or witnessed any harassment herself, and, if the employees didn’t register complaints with HR or another superior, little reason to expect she should have known.

The rest of the accusations fall under that easily abused, amorphous term “toxic.” Like a black employee complaining of unspecified microaggressions and charging racism when she was denied a raise (Isn’t it possible there was some other reason her employer didn’t want to pay her more?). Or an unnamed staffer saying Ellen giggled and quipped, “Well, I guess every production needs their dog,” after witnessing an executive yell at the crew. If we learned nothing else from the Covington Catholic episode, we learned that there’s more than one way to read an expression of mirth. It’s entirely possible DeGeneres’ comment and chuckle were an awkward attempt to break the tension and issue a subtle rebuke.

When it comes to the entertainment industry, you can’t overestimate the power of sour grapes. Suddenly, every minor unpleasant encounter with a superior is spun into evidence of a toxic work environment. This isn’t to suggest that DeGeneres actually is the warm, fuzzy figure she plays on TV — the preponderance of cold fish anecdotes suggests she isn’t. (Though, if Hollywood were to empty of every demanding, uptight celebrity, the place would suddenly become a ghost town).

And it isn’t to say that schadenfreude is the certain motivator for everyone jumping on the anti-DeGeneres’ bandwagon. But conservatives should be the last people to pile on without proof and the first to take disgruntled former employees’ words with a grain of salt. Because if you look closely, there seem to be other reasons some are thrilled her time on our TVs has come to an end … like her willingness to make friends across the political aisle.

“Ellen is retiring to spend more time with George W. Bush,” sneered Buzzfeed News’ Deputy Director David Mack when the news broke Wednesday. Bridget Todd, leftwing iHeartRadio podcast host, also signaled that her joy stemmed from the Bush connection, tweeting, “It will NEVER not be funny to me that Ellen’s public downfall started when she lied about not being invited to Dakota Johnson’s party, when in reality she couldn’t come because she was at a football game with her good friend George W. Bush.”

Make no mistake, whatever wrongdoing may or may not have occurred behind the scenes on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” the reason many in the industry are happy to see her career in tatters is because she refused to apologize for making pleasant conversation with a former president and fellow football fan. Even worse, she boldly called him a friend.  

“Here’s the thing: I’m friends with George Bush. In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have,” DeGeneres said at the time, adding, “Just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not gonna be friends with them. When I say, ‘Be kind to one another,’ I don’t mean only the people that think the same way that you do. I mean be kind to everyone. It doesn’t matter.”

And she’s not just willing to befriend Republicans, she’s willing to employ them as well. One of her staff writers, Adam Yenzer, has made no secret of his conservative identity, or his comedy partnership with Daily Wire reporter, Paul Bois. Yet he still has a job. So I guess you can mark DeGeneres down as more tolerant than Disney.

We also must not forget how much ire DeGeneres earned from her industry when she showed grace to comedian Kevin Hart, inviting him on her show and assuring him she was in his corner after he’d been dismissed from hosting the Oscars over ten-year-old jokes.

Variety’s Senior Entertainment Writer Adam B. Vary spoke for plenty of his peers when he fumed at DeGeneres for daring to tell Hart not to let people like Vary win: “First, the people who brought up Kevin Hart’s past tweets — like me — were not, as Ellen characterized, ‘haters.’ The host of the Oscars had made anti-gay jokes, and LGBT people who love the Oscars were legitimately startled to see just how harsh his words were.”

There is a side that doesn’t want those who’ve violated their speech codes to hear that anyone is in their corner. They don’t want someone as influential as DeGeneres telling the world it can ignore them as “haters.” 

This isn’t to say conservatives need to be Ellen fans. I’m not and never have been. Her soft shoe, sunshine routine always struck a false note for me, and I certainly don’t care for her politics. But I’m not going to do a little Ellen dance on her grave. Given that she represents an old guard that at least preached kindness and tolerance for other views, even if she didn’t always practice it, I don’t believe other conservatives should either.

Megan Basham is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and the entertainment reporter for The Daily Wire. In her previous role as an entertainment editor and podcast co-host for World Magazine, she interviewed numerous A-list celebrities. She has also written for The Wall Street Journal, National Review, and Townhall. Her book, Beside Every Successful Man, was published by Random House.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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