Top Canadian TV Host Steps Down to Make Way for ‘Black Voices’

Etalk host Ben Mulroney's resignation comes as his wife, Jessica Mulroney, recently lost her own TV show after threatening a Black blogger.
June 22, 2020, 9:17pm
Ben Mulroney CTV etalk
Ben Mulroney is stepping down from etalk. Franj Arcuri/THE CANADIAN PRESS 

More than a week after celebrity stylist Jessica Mulroney was booted from a CTV reality series for targeting a Black influencer, her husband Ben Mulroney has quit his job as co-anchor of the network’s celebrity gossip show etalk to make room for “a new voice.”

Ben Mulroney, son of a former Canadian prime minister and one of the country’s most recognizable TV personalities, announced his decision to step down from etalk Monday, on CTV’s Your Morning, which he will continue to co-anchor.

"More than ever, we need more Black voices, more Indigenous voices, more people of colour in the media as well as every other profession, and that is why I have decided to immediately step away from my role as anchor at etalk to create space for a new perspective and a new voice,” Ben said. “It is my hope that that new anchor is Black, Indigenous, or a person of colour and they can use this important platform to inspire, to lead, and to make change.”

Ben acknowledged that his privilege has “benefited me greatly.”

"While I have certainly worked hard to build my career, I know that systemic racism and injustice helps people like me and harms those who aren't like me, often in ways that are invisible to us. This needs to change," he said.

The move comes at a time when many institutions, including media outlets, are being called out for having tone-deaf coverage and so few racialized employees. The conversation about anti-Black racism has been magnified by the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

While Ben referenced the ongoing fallout from his wife’s behaviour, he said “it is not my place to speak for her.”

“We are both committed to doing the work to understand more about anti-Black racism as well as learn and understand more about our blind spots," he said.

Toronto-based fashion influencer Sasha Exeter, 40, called out Jessica Mulroney, 40, in a video posted to Instagram on June 10. She likened Jessica to Amy Cooper, the woman who called the police on a Black birder in Central Park.

In the post, Exeter, a single mother, explained that Jessica threatened her after she took it as a personal attack when Exeter encouraged her peers to speak up about anti-Black racism. She said Jessica was silent on the issue, despite being friends with Meghan Markle, one of the most famous Black women in the world, and being vocal about other important causes.

Exeter said Jessica made excuses for not wanting to use her platform to speak about anti-Black racism and only promoted her TV show, as protests against police brutality mounted across the U.S. and around the world.

She said Jessica eventually told her, “I have also spoken to companies and people about the way you've treated me unfairly. You think your voice matters, well it only matters if you express it with kindness and without shaming people who are simply trying to learn. Good luck.”

After Exeter went public, Jessica apologized on her Instagram page, framing the situation as a “disagreement” that “got out of hand.” She said she never intended to jeopardize Exeter’s livelihood.

Exeter said Jessica also threatened her with a lawsuit for calling her out; Mulroney said she won’t be pursuing legal action.

In addition to the cancellation of her show I Do, Redo, Jessica has been dropped from appearances on Good Morning America and CityTV’s Cityline, as well as a partnership with Hudson’s Bay.

Ben will continue to host red carpet events for etalk and special projects.

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