Dave Chappelle performing in Detroit for his latest Netflix special, 'The Closer.'
Dave Chappelle performing in Detroit for his latest Netflix special, 'The Closer.'
Source: Netflix

Netflix CEO Admits He "Screwed Up," But Not with His Support for Dave Chappelle

Ted Sarandos faces the criticism Netflix received over the content of Dave Chappelle's new stand-up set for the steamer.

As his employees ready a walkout in protest of Dave Chappelle's controversy-sturring special, The Closer, Netflix co-CEO, Ted Sarandos, has addressed the backlash in a new interview.

Speaking with Variety last night, Sarandos admitted he "screwed up" with how he handled internal communication with LGBTQ and allied employees hurt by the comedian's comments about their community. "I screwed it up in two ways. First and foremost, I should have led with a lot more humanity. Meaning, I had a group of employees who were definitely feeling pain and hurt from a decision we made. And I think that needs to be acknowledged up front before you get into the nuts and bolts of anything. I didn’t do that," Sarandos said. Though he does concede that storytelling "has real impact in the real world," Sarandos refused to characterize Chappelle's jokes about the trans community as hate speech. "Where we’ll definitely draw the line is on something that would intentionally call for physically harming other people or even remove protections," the Netflix chief adds, stopping short of addressing the several instances of Chappelle actually joking about violence towards trans and cis women.

Elsewhere in the interview, Sarandos claims he's checked in with the comedian since the uproar over his special began, noting how Chappelle expressed his appreciation for the support. He goes on to state that he's been speaking with angered employees about meeting their demands for more LGBTQ content on the platform, but makes it clear that he values artistic freedom above all and will remain committed to that for the sake of maintaining the company's relationships with talent and creators. "One of the things that I think is very important that I want people to understand is that, going forward, it should be really clear that I support artistic freedom and the creators that work at Netflix. I’m committed to continuing to increase representation on screen and behind the camera, and I’m always open to learn and improve on how to address these challenges."

Read Ted Sarandos' full interview via Variety.