Sharon Osbourne, like Piers Morgan, has been disguising cruelty as ‘straight-talk’ for years

Mar 19 · 4 min read

Anyone who watched Osbourne on “The X Factor” will know bullying is as much a part of her DNA as it is Morgan’s, writes Insider editor Tom Murray.

Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan began hosting “America’s Got Talent” together in 2007.
Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan began hosting “America’s Got Talent” together in 2007. Photo: Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank

By Tom Murray

“She’s unpredictable … You never know what she’s going to say.”

That’s what Sharon Osbourne’s former fellow “X Factor” judge Louis Walsh said about her in one of the infinite compilations available on YouTube of Osbourne’s “hilarious” interactions with some of the British talent show’s more hapless contestants.

It’s the kind of language that has always been used to describe Osbourne and her friend Piers Morgan, with whom she judged on “America’s Got Talent” (the American edition of Simon Cowell’s “Got Talent” franchise). They’re not afraid to speak their minds. They won’t apologize for having opinions. And if you have a problem with that: f — — you, snowflake!

Unfortunately, their tactics don’t work both ways.

When Morgan was finally called out for his continued attacks on Meghan Markle, he walked off the set of his morning show and promptly quit. In turn, Osbourne defended Morgan, and when her “The Talk” co-host Sheryl Underwood radically suggested that Morgan’s criticisms might be rooted in racism, Osbourne broke down in tears crying: “How can I be racist about anybody?”

British people have long-known that Osbourne is a bully

Louis Walsh, Sharon Osbourne and Simon Cowell in 2007.
Members of the “The X Factor”: Louis Walsh, Sharon Osbourne and Simon Cowell in 2007. Photo: Jon Furniss/WireImage/Getty Images

What people in the US might not know is that Osbourne, like Morgan, has made a career out of being a bully. There are many examples — more of which are coming out in the wake of “The Talk’s” reckoning — of Osbourne’s “brutal honesty” straying into malignant cruelty.

This knowledge is etched into the collective subconscious of Great Britain who watched Osbourne on “The X Factor” during most of the early 2000s.

One need only watch her and Walsh falling apart laughing at a contestant on the show while teasing her for being overweight. Or look back to a 2006 interview, in which she revealed she sends Tiffany boxes filled with her own excrement to people she dislikes and had been doing so “for an awfully long time.” Or hear her say Susan Boyle looks like a “hairy a — hole” with a laugh in a 2010 interview.

More recently, Osbourne described firing an assistant for not having a sense of humor after she forced him to go back into a burning building to save her artwork. She also said she took his oxygen mask off and put it on her dog.

In the late ’90s and early ’00s, reality shows were the Wild West. That was true especially in the UK where anything went. The more outrageous you could be, the better and Osbourne quickly cemented herself as one of the UK’s biggest — and meanest — stars.

When she was first announced as a host on “The Talk,” Eric Spitznagel wrote for Vanity Fair that he would watch the show “solely because Sharon Osbourne is a co-host, and any time Sharon Osbourne is on live TV, there’s a chance somebody is going to get slapped, covered in a hot beverage, or called a whore.”

Sadly for Spitznagel, the world of TV has moved on.

Mainstream TV no longer has a place for these two

As I write this, Osbourne’s current brutal honesty gig on “The Talk” is on hiatus pending an internal investigation triggered by her outburst at fellow host Underwood.

That’s what happens now when people in the spotlight make inappropriate jokes, reveal prejudice, or behave unprofessionally — they’re taken off the air and repercussions swiftly follow. Just look at what happened with Gina Carano and Disney’s “The Mandalorian.”

It’s not about cancel culture, as Morgan and Osbourne would have you think, it’s about being held accountable.

Sharon Osbourne on “The Talk.”
Sharon Osbourne on “The Talk.” Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

“People forget that you’re paid for your opinion and that you’re just speaking your truth,” Osbourne tweeted Morgan after his exit from “GMB.”

Unfortunately, Osbourne’s idea of her and Morgan’s “truths” are not what the majority of viewers deem true anymore. The UK’s communications regulator Ofcom received 57,000 complaints about Morgan’s rants against Markle, setting a new record.

Morgan and Osbourne are much like the royal family that they defend: relics of the past refusing to change with the times.

Both will likely bounce back in some capacity. Rupert Murdoch’s upcoming “opinionated” News UK TV venture and Andrew Neil’s GB News, where right-wing voices will be given a more sympathetic platform, are rumored to be involved in a $14 million (£10 million) bidding war over Morgan.

But the past few weeks have shown one thing: Mainstream TV as we know it no longer has a place for these two.

Unfortunately, somewhere will.

This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author(s).

For more great stories, visit Insider’s homepage.



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