Obama mum on transgender controversy at Netflix over Dave Chappelle special

Former President Barack Obama, who has a multiyear deal with Netflix, has been noticeably silent about the furor over the streaming service’s special by comic Dave Chappelle that contains anti-transgender comments.

Mr. Obama hasn’t issued a statement about the controversy, which prompted a walkout by Netflix employees this week. His presidential office didn’t respond to a request for comment on the matter Friday.

Mr. Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama signed an exclusive deal with Netflix in 2018 to produce films and series for the streaming service. The financial terms weren’t disclosed, but similar long-term deals with high-profile figures have been worth more than $100 million.

During his presidency, Mr. Obama confided that Mr. Chappelle’s previous show on Comedy Central was his favorite, according to comic Neal Brennan, who met the president at the 2011 White House correspondents dinner.

Transgender activists protested at Netflix‘s offices on Wednesday over Mr. Chappelle’s comedy special entitled “The Closer.” Organizer Ashlee Lee Preston said the demonstration was aimed at Netflix‘s corporate culture, not at Mr. Chappelle.

“I’m here to talk to his master, and those are the people that sign his paycheck,” she said. “It is the emergence of ‘hate economy,’ of corporations profiting and making money off of us getting at one another’s throats.” 

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos told Variety that he wants to support “creative freedom” among its artists, but said he “screwed up” internal communications with Netflix employees about the show.

“I should have led with a lot more humanity,” Mr. Sarandos said. “I had a group of employees who were definitely feeling pain and hurt from a decision we made. And I think that needs to be acknowledged upfront before you get into the nuts and bolts of anything. I didn’t do that.”

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