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'It was too orchestrated': Ellen DeGeneres opens up about personal attacks in TODAY exclusive

"I really didn't understand it, I still don't understand it," Ellen DeGeneres told Savannah Guthrie in an exclusive interview.
/ Source: TODAY

After more than 3,000 episodes of her eponymous daytime talk show, Ellen DeGeneres announced this week she is calling it quits after the next season.

She's now exclusively opening up to TODAY's Savannah Guthrie about her decision, which comes nearly one year after claims of a toxic workplace triggered an internal investigation.

"Did you feel like you were being canceled?" Savannah asked the talk show host about the 2020 allegations and the public backlash that followed.

"I felt like somebody had some kind of, you know? I mean, I really didn't understand it, I still don't understand it," DeGeneres replied. "Yeah, I thought I thought something was going on that that, because it was too orchestrated, it was too coordinated.

"And, you know, people get picked on but for four months straight for me, and then for me to read in the press about a toxic work environment, when, when all I've ever heard from every guest that comes on the show is what a happy atmosphere this is, and how, what a happy place it is."

DeGeneres faced accusations of a toxic workplace at her show that ultimately resulted in the departures of three executive producers last summer.

In another preview of TODAY's interview with her released on Wednesday night, DeGeneres said she was "glad" that she had been able to tell her staff and crew before the news of her upcoming departure was "leaked."

"I'm glad that before it leaked, I got to tell my staff and my crew, from my own words - that they didn't hear it anyplace else," she said, calling it an emotional experience. "Because I haven't been sleeping. I've been trying to, you know, anticipate how to tell them and, you know, hope that everybody would take it okay. A lot of people were very emotional. I got emotional."

The Hollywood Reporter spoke with DeGeneres first about her decision to leave after the upcoming 19th season in a story published early Wednesday.

"When you’re a creative person, you constantly need to be challenged — and as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it’s just not a challenge anymore," she told THR, adding that last summer's controversy "destroyed" her.

"I’d be lying if I said it didn’t," she told the outlet. "And it makes me really sad that there’s so much joy out there from negativity. It’s a culture now where there are just mean people, and it’s so foreign to me that people get joy out of that."

On Wednesday afternoon, her show shared a preview of her monologue set to air on Thursday on social media. The 63-year-old teared up as she addressed her fans and announced her decision to end the show.

"The past 18 years have changed my life. You’ve changed my life," she said, in part. "I am forever grateful to all of you for watching, for laughing, for dancing ... sometimes crying. This show has been the greatest experience of my life and I owe it all to you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."

"The Ellen DeGeneres Show" will also feature pop star Pink and daytime TV icon Oprah Winfrey as guests on Thursday. The remainder of DeGeneres' interview with Savannah will air on TODAY on Thursday morning.