Elaine Welteroth Responds to Leaked Audio of Her Consoling Sharon Osbourne (Exclusive)

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Elaine Welteroth attends 51st NAACP Image Awards - Non-Televised Awards Dinner on February 21, 2020 in Hollywood, California.
Leon Bennett/WireImage

Elaine Welteroth is speaking out after audio was leaked to the Dailymail of her talking to Sharon Osbourne following the intense on-air discussion between Osbourne and her then co-hosts on The Talk in March.

In the audio, Welteroth is comforting a tearful Osbourne backstage and says she's sorry about the way the conversation went down. Osbourne exited The Talk in March after her defense of her longtime friend, Piers Morgan, sparked the exchange that ultimately led to an internal review by CBS and the program taking a hiatus.

In an exclusive statement to ET, Welteroth -- who joined the CBS daytime talk show last December --  is responding to her private conversation with Osbourne heard in the audio. Read the full statement below:

I thought we had closed the painful, public chapter of the controversy related to the March 10th show. Today, however, I learned that my private comments made moments after the incident from a place of compassion to a then-colleague (the most senior level co-host on The Talk) were recorded —without my consent or knowledge—and shared with the media.

I have refrained from speaking with the press or engaging in dialogue on this issue. I reluctantly wade into this now simply to ensure that, as a Black woman, I am not silenced or side-lined.

What I am sharing today is consistent with what I have already shared on camera. Nothing has changed. It is not news that I did not call Sharon a racist and it is certainly not news that the way the show unfolded caught us all by surprise. None of us wanted that day to go how it did and I do not regret sharing these feelings in a private conversation with a colleague. I welcome fair, constructive dialogue and I am no stranger to tough conversations about race. But I will not be vilified for telling the truth, on or off-air.

To set the record straight, it was not a hot mic—I was unlawfully recorded without consent. And I never filed a complaint with HR against Sharon Osbourne or anyone else. I am disheartened, however, that my kindness has been taken out of context and weaponized in an attempt to absolve responsibility for someone else’s actions.

I was honored to join The Talk to add my voice to important and lively conversations. I am so excited about the next chapter with our new co-host Jerry O'Connell and I am grateful for the new perspectives he will bring to the show.

On the April 12th episode of The Talk, the show's first episode back since Osbourne's exit, Welteroth denied that anyone prepared her beforehand for the discussion about race during the March 10th episode.

"There have been a lot of false narratives spun in the media that frame both Sheryl [Underwood] and myself as co-conspirators in attacking someone," she said. "I just want to take this opportunity to say that that is absolutely categorically false and unfair."

On Wednesday, The Talk announced that Jerry O'Connell will be joining the show, making him the first full-time male co-host in the show's history. Aside from Underwood and Welteroth, he joins Amanda Kloots and Carrie Ann Inaba, though Inaba took a leave of absence from the show in April to focus on her health and well-being. ET spoke to O'Connell about his exciting new gig after the announcement.

"What I think I enhance at The Talk is just, us having fun," he said. "If somebody says something, or has a story that remotely makes me laugh, or that I think is funny or interesting, we're gonna hammer that. We're gonna go right in there. I think it's mostly about us breaking down the stories and having a good time while doing it." 

Watch the video below for more.

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