- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Nick Cannon announced his abrupt resignation from NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” Monday, accusing the network of trampling on his free speech rights and trying to censor him following a racial joke he made on his recent Showtime stand-up special.

The comedian announced his unexpected exit on Facebook, saying he was “deeply saddened” about being “threatened with termination” after his controversial joke on “Stand Up, Don’t Shoot” reportedly irked NBC executives.

“I find myself in a dark place having to make a decision that I wish I didn’t have to, but as a man, an artist, and a voice for my community I will not be silenced, controlled or treated like a piece of property,” Mr. Cannon wrote. “There is no amount of money worth my dignity or my integrity.

“My moral principles will easily walk away from the millions of dollars they hang over my head,” he added. “It’s never been about the money for me, what is difficult to walk away from is the fans, the people who love me on the show. This hurts tremendously.”

Mr. Cannon’s resignation came after rumors swirled that NBC executives were considering terminating his contract following a racial joke he made about “America’s Got Talent” on his comedy special that aired on Showtime Friday night.

“Sometimes I wish I could say the stuff that I really want to say,” Mr. Cannon said on stage, according to a clip posted by TMZ. “‘Cause y’all see my face on ‘America’s Got Talent?’ Like, ‘This next crazy motherf—er coming to the stage gonna be juggling blindfolded with knives and shit, so n—as be careful!’ But I can’t say that. I can’t talk like that. ‘Cause that would mess up the white money.”

Sources familiar with the situation told TMZ that NBC executives thought Mr. Cannon was disparaging the network. Sources said NBC considered terminating Mr. Cannon’s contract but ultimately decided to keep him after determining the joke was a “passing comment,” TMZ reported.

Still, Mr. Cannon said his decision to resign was based on a moral duty to stand up for what he believes is right.

“I have fought many battles in my career and have never been afraid to go up against the system. I have mulled over my process for days and felt it was best to once again speak my mind about an unjust infrastructure that treat talent like they own them,” he wrote Monday. “So I wish AGT and NBC the best in its upcoming season but I can not see myself returning. As of lately I have even questioned if I want to even be apart of an industry who ultimately treats artists in this manner.”

Production on season 12 of “America’s Got Talent” is scheduled to begin next month. A replacement for Mr. Cannon, who served as the host since 2009, has not been named.

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