Netflix CEO says his stance on Dave Chappelle's special hasn't changed but says he 'screwed up' in message to staff, ahead of a planned walk-out
Netflix's co-CEO previously said content does not cause real-world harm. Ted Sarandostold outlets on Tuesday that he "screwed up" with those comments.
Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos said he "screwed up" with his response to employees' criticism that Dave Chappelle's "Closer" special was transphobic, several outlets reported.
"I screwed up the internal communication - and I don't mean just mechanically. I feel I should've made sure to recognize that a group of our employees was hurting very badly from the decision made," Sarandos told Deadline on Tuesday.
Sarandos was referencing a company-wide email he sent defending the special. In the email, he said content "doesn't directly translate to real-world harm."
In his special, Chappelle says "gender is a fact" and aligned himself with TERFs, or trans-exclusionary radical feminists, Insider previously reported.
"I should have led with a lot more humanity," Sarandos told Variety on Tuesday.
He added: "Of course storytelling has real impact in the real world. I reiterate that because it's why I work here, it's why we do what we do. That impact can be hugely positive, and it can be quite negative."
However, Sarandos told Variety he doesn't think Chappelle's comments amount to hate speech and does not plan to remove the special from the streaming platform's docket.
"It's impossible to please everybody, but we are trying to please a world that is made of people of different tastes, sensibilities, and beliefs, and it becomes very difficult to do that for everybody," he told Deadline.
He told Variety that he wanted to be "really clear" that he supports "artistic freedom and the creators that work at Netflix."
The statement came a day before a scheduled walkout organized by trans Netflix employees.
Netflix had previously suspended three employees who publicly protested the special - including one trans employee whose Twitter thread about the special went viral- but they were later reinstated. The company also fired the leader of a trans resource group organizing Wednesday's walkout for leaking financial data "outside the company."
The company accused the former employee of sending information to Bloomberg detailing the cost of producing Chappelle's special, which revealed that the special's budget was higher than average.
Neither Netflix nor Sarandos responded to Insider's request for comment.
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