Netflix CEO Says He ‘Screwed Up’ Response to Employee Anger Over Dave Chappelle Special


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Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said he “screwed up” communicating with his staff after they expressed displeasure with Dave Chappelle’s new streaming comedy special, The Closer. Employees are planning a walkout for Wednesday. 

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“Obviously, I screwed up that internal communication,” he told Variety. “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.”

Related: Virginia Hotel Says No to Event With Pharrell Williams, Dave Chappelle

Chappelle’s newest special has been criticized for its numerous jokes about transgender individuals and the LGBTQ+ community. Advocates have called the special transphobic, but Sarandos told his employees when the backlash began that the company would never platform programs “that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line.”

In a different interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he stood by his original statement, saying his “stance hasn’t changed.”

“We do tell our employees upfront that we are trying to entertain our members, and that some of the content on Netflix you’re not going to like,” he said.

Per Sarandos, the streaming giant is “deeply committed” both to “inclusion” and “supporting artistic freedom with the creators who work at Netflix.”

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