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The Latest Daytime TV Host Accused of Running a Toxic Work Environment: Kelly Clarkson

NBC. Getty Images.

It's always the "nice" ones.

A decade ago, it was Rosie O'Donnell who got a daytime talk show that was supposed to be a happy, upbeat, refreshing change from Jerry Springer's (RIP) freak show and Maury Povich's paternity test-fueled mayhem. Then came Ellen Degeneres:

As I've cited here before, Adam Carolla makes a great point about how the two people most known for doing happy dances during the opening credits of their own shows are Ellen and Bill Cosby. And both were secretly monsters away from the cameras. 

Now we've got yet another celebrity with an impeccable reputation for niceness running a hellish environment behind the scenes of their eponymous TV show: Kelly Clarkson:

Source - When The Kelly Clarkson Show debuted on NBC in the fall of 2019, the talk show immediately became a beloved, fresh addition to the traditional daytime lineup. …

But behind the scenes, employees say they were overworked, underpaid, and that working at the show was traumatizing to their mental health, describing The Kelly Clarkson Show as a toxic environment. … One current and 10 former employees spoke to Rolling Stone under the condition of anonymity out of fear of retribution. …    

“NBC is protecting the show because it’s their new money maker, but Kelly has no clue how unhappy her staff is,” one former employee says.

A second former employee adds, “I remember going up on the roof of the stage to cry, being like, ‘Oh, my gosh, what am I doing? Why am I putting myself through this?’” …

“I think [show's producer] Alex Duda’s a monster,” a former employee says. …

As for Clarkson, the current employee as well as 10 former employees are under the impression she isn’t aware of how bad things are for lower-level staffers, some of whom say they’ve taken on other jobs as babysitters, dog walkers, and Uber Eats drivers to pay their bills.

Now at this point, you might be horrified to discover that in 2023, in what is supposed to be an enlightened age of fairness and social justice, that young, low level staffers at entry level positions trying to break into the entertainment industry, would be forced to take gig economy jobs in order to pay their bills and student loans. But here it is, in black and white. Happening right under Kelly's unsuspecting nose. Shocking. Absolutely shocking. 

But there's more. If you're wondering where the actual examples of abuse are, oh I have them. They're coming. I just felt it best to interrupt here to offer a warning. Gird your loins. Graphic Content Ahead. 

One former employee says they recently quit working at the show because a producer who reports to Duda yelled and cursed at them multiple times onstage. They say they developed so much anxiety from the way they were treated at work that they would regularly vomit and exhibit physical signs of sickness.  …

A second former employee says they took a leave of absence because their mental health was also suffering. They say they were bullied and intimidated by producers who went out of their way to make staffers feel scared to ask questions and get their work done.

That's it. I haven't left anything out. But then again, isn't that enough? 

What kind of a harsh, inhuman, oppressive work environment are they running over there? It's like a Dickensian workhouse. The producer raising her voice and using cuss words? Other producers making them afraid to ask questions?

Giphy Images.

How can something like this be allowed to exist in our times? It's like the Labor movement never happened! Where's OSHA? Where are the local authorities? Where's Amnesty International? It's high time these Human Rights groups stop prattling on about child labor and mothers digging for cobalt with their hands while carrying babies on their backs and get right to the bottom of why Kelly Clarkson Show staffers are going up to the roof of the stage to have a good cry or running to the bathroom to puke. 

Believe me, I'm not about to launch into some OK, Boomer speech about jobs I've had and bosses I've worked for. No one needs to hear me go all Jimmy Dugan about how Rogers Hornsby called me a talking pile of pigshit in front of my parents and I didn't cry. No, my total sympathies are with these dedicated, hard-working professionals who are being subjected to the abuse of having to listen to stern words from the people in charge. No one should have to "exhibit physical signs of sickness," whatever that means, just to put on five hours of TV a week. 

And I say this as someone who's been working for Dave Portnoy in some capacity or another for almost 20 years. He would never call out one of his employees with harsh language, or stoop to resorting to sailor talk, just for the sake of producing a better product. And it's appalling that Kelly Clarkson's producers would. Shameful. Simply shameful.