Singer and TV personality Nick Cannon says he is stepping down as host of America’s Got Talent (AGT) after NBC executives reportedly “publicly reprimanded and ridiculed” him over a joke he made during one of his standup comedy specials.
“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,” Cannon wrote in a lengthy Facebook post on Monday.
“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,” Cannon wrote. “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.”
Cannon told radio host Howard Stern last week that NBC executives weren’t laughing when Cannon made a joke about the network costing him his “black card” while filming his upcoming Showtime comedy special, Stand Up, Don’t Shoot.
The 36-year-old actor apparently cracked several jokes about NBC during the comedy special, which saw Cannon use the N-word several times.
“I grew up like a real n—a, all that stuff, but I honestly believe that once I started doing America’s Got Talent, they took my real n—a card. They did because then these types of people start showing up to my shows,” Cannon joked during the comedy special, Entertainment Weekly reports. “I can’t do the real n—a stuff anymore cause then they’ll put me on TMZ.”
Cannon — who has expressed a number of politically unpopular views over the past few months, including that Planned Parenthood is designed to exterminate black people — says he had been warned by his mentors that “The System” would come after him “because I was speaking too many truths and being too loud about it.”
“I will not be silenced, controlled or treated like a piece of property,” Cannon, who has hosted the reality singing competition for the past eight seasons, wrote on Facebook.
NBC, Cannon charged, is part of an “unjust infrastructure that treats talent like they own them.”
But Cannon said he made the hard choice to leave America’s Got Talent because his “soul won’t allow [him] to be in business with corporations that attempt to frown on freedom of speech, censor artists, and question cultural choices.”
“So I wish AGT and NBC the best in its upcoming season, but I can not see myself returning,” Cannon wrote. “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.”