Ellen DeGeneres' apology to her current and former talk show employees has fallen flat as jaded staffers accuse her of using their issues to pump up ratings.
The TV personality returned to her studio to kick off the 18th season of The Ellen DeGeneres Show this week and immediately fronted to accusations about toxicity behind the scenes, including complaints of sexual harassment and bullying.
Following an investigation over the summer, three producers were dismissed and Ellen insisted she'd be making some changes to improve conditions the workplace culture.
However, because Ellen waited for the 18th season premiere to address the public about the attack on her reputation as the "be kind lady", current and past employees were left disappointed with the way she started the show.
"Not only did Ellen turn my trauma, turn our traumas, into a joke, she somehow managed to make this about her," one former employee told Buzzfeed News.
The anonymous ex-worker continued: "When she said, 'Oh, my summer was great' and that was supposed to be funny I thought, 'It’s funny that you had a rough summer because everyone was calling out all of the allegations of your toxic work environment and now you’re the one suffering?'"
A current employee questioned the timing of the apology, commenting: "It's always tactical. The average person will listen to it and make their own choices, but what people don’t always take into account is that information is power, and she’s sharing it now because it’s for premiere week and it’s to get viewers back, and that just feels the opposite of what this message is about."
Another former staffer added: "When you’re talking about people who have accused her leadership of the seriousness of sexual misconduct, I don’t think it’s appropriate to have jokes in the monologue."
During her opening talk, Ellen said: "I learned that things happened here that never should have happened. I take that very seriously and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected."
She added: "I know that I'm in a position of privilege and power and I realise that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show."
However, she also made light of the situation, joking: "Let me give you some advice out there if anybody's thinking of changing their title or giving yourself a nickname, do not go with the 'be kind' lady. Don't do it."