In the first monologue of Season 18, DeGeneres stood before her virtual audience and wasted no time diving into the reports that resulted in an investigation conducted by WarnerMedia and the firing of three executive producers, along with allegations made against her specifically that went against her on-camera persona.
DeGeneres, who had previously addressed the same allegations in a letter sent to her staff in July, said on Monday, "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. I know that I am in a position of privilege and power, and I realize that with that comes responsibility, and I take responsibility for what happens at my show." She continued, "We have made the necessary changes, and today we are starting a new chapter."
The Ellen DeGeneres Show and the titular host came under fire after several staffers came forward with claims of workplace toxicity, including discriminatory and harmful practices, such as being "treated unfairly," being penalized for taking personal time, and being instructed not to make direct eye contact with DeGeneres when crossing paths with her.
DeGeneres, whose on-screen persona is "the 'be kind' lady," in her words, went on to explain that she started saying "be kind" after the 2010 suicide of Tyler Clementi as a result of anti-gay bullying.
"I thought the world needed more kindness," she said. "And I think we need it more than ever right now." DeGeneres clarified, "The truth is, I am that person that you see on TV. I am also a lot of other things. Sometimes I get sad. I get mad. I get anxious. I get frustrated. I get impatient. And I am working on all of that." Keeping the mood light, she joked, "I am especially working on the impatience thing, and it's not going well because it's not happening fast enough."
She ended her monologue with one last apology. "If I've ever let someone down, if I've ever hurt their feelings, I am so sorry for that," she said. "If that's ever the case, I have let myself down and I've hurt myself as well, because I always try to grow as a person." She then spoke directly to her 270 staff members, saying, "All I want is for every single one of them to be happy and to be proud to work here."
DeGeneres also commented on the uncertainty of the world and said she hopes her show can still be "the one hour a day that people can go to escape and laugh." She concluded, before diving into the rest of the episode, "I want to continue to help all the people that we help every day, and I am committed to making this the best season that we have ever had."