Critics piled on Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos Tuesday after he said he "screwed up" defending comedian Dave Chappelle over his new special "The Closer," in which the comedian infuriated some employees for remarks about transgendered people.

In the special, Chapelle compared the transgender community to people who wear blackface, and declared that "gender is a fact."

Dave Chappelle: The Closer. c. Mathieu Bitton (Mathieu Bitton/Netflix)

According to The Wall Street Journal, Sarandos sought to clarify remarks he made while defending Chappelle through email to Netflix staff earlier this month, in which he said "content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm."

"What I should have led with in those emails was humanity," Sarandos said in a Tuesday interview. "I should have recognized the fact that a group of our employees was really hurting."


"We have articulated to our employees that there are going to be things you don’t like," he added. "There are going to be things that you might feel are harmful. But we are trying to entertain a world with varying tastes and varying sensibilities and various beliefs, and I think this special was consistent with that."

A transgender employee group at Netflix is planning to take off work Wednesday to protest the company's decision to continue working with Chappelle and is encouraging other employees to join them.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Dave Chappelle attends the UK premiere of "Dave Chappelle: Untitled" at Cineworld Leicester Square on October 17, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images) _____ LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 06: Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos attends "The Harder They Fall" World Premiere during the 65th BFI London Film Festival at The Royal Festival Hall on October 06, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for BFI) (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images  |  Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for BFI)

Critics took to social media to blast Sarandos, with some suggesting he was caving to pushback from a small group of detractors and others saying he should never have addressed criticism over Chappelle to begin with. 

"And so the caving commences," journalist Bari Weiss wrote.


The special dropped on Oct. 5 and is currently one of the top 10 Netflix shows in the U.S., reaching as high as number 3 earlier this week. It was the sixth and final Netflix show by Chappelle in his current deal with the streaming giant.

Sarandos added he didn't regret the show and wouldn't pull it from the platform.