Leaked Netflix memo on Dave Chappelle’s ‘The Closer’ instructs recruiters on how to discuss the controversy

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A newly leaked memo reportedly shows how Netflix was instructing its recruiters to discuss Dave Chappelle’s “The Closer” following a controversy that saw protests by employees. 

Chappelle has been at the center of controversy ever since releasing the comedy special on the platform in which he dedicates a great deal of time to discussing the transgender community and the backlash he received following his previous special with the streaming giant, “Sticks & Stones.”  

In the wake of the controversy surrounding “The Closer,” The Verge reports that recruiters for Netflix were sent a memo that offered detailed talking points regarding how to talk with prospective new hires who have questions about the company’s decision to back the comedian amid a debate about transgender representation and cancel culture.

The memo notes that it is merely offering its recruiters suggestions on how to deal with questions about “The Closer” rather than providing a mandatory script. It instructs them to use their “best judgment” but to avoid talking about the controversy if possible. It says that the company is not commenting publicly on the matter any further, and therefore they should not either.

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Dave Chappelle has been the subject of controversy since releasing "The Closer" on Netflix.

Dave Chappelle has been the subject of controversy since releasing “The Closer” on Netflix.
(Mathieu Bitton/Netflix)

Representatives for Netflix did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

The comedian caught the ire of the LGBTQ+ community after the special was released on Netflix in September. In it, Chappelle spends about a third of his time discussing his past dealings with people in the transgender community getting offended by his jokes. He makes remarks such as “gender is a fact” and declares himself “team TERF,” a term standing for trans-exclusionary radical feminist, in a lengthy defense of “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling. 

His comments sparked a lot of backlash, including a walkout among Netflix employees and calls for his content to be pulled from the platform. The company lost a few employees as a result of the special. An engineer who was openly critical of the special on Twitter was briefly suspended for crashing a board meeting they were not invited to. They have since been reinstated. 

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People protest outside the Netflix building in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. Critics and supporters of Dave Chappelle's Netflix special and its anti-transgender comments gathered outside the company's offices.

People protest outside the Netflix building in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. Critics and supporters of Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special and its anti-transgender comments gathered outside the company’s offices.
(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

One employee was fired from the company for allegedly disclosing confidential financial information about what it paid for “The Closer.”

B. Pagels-Minor, a game launch operations program manager who is trans, acknowledged they were the employee. They filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that Netflix retaliated against the workers to keep them from speaking up about working conditions, including “Netflix’s products and the impact of its product choices on the LGBTQ+ community.”

In the memo, recruiters are encouraged to respond to questions about the employee termination by reiterating the previously released statement on the matter. 

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“We have let go of an employee for sharing confidential, commercially sensitive information outside the company,” the memo reads. “We understand they may have been motivated by disappointment and hurt with Netflix, but maintaining a culture of trust and transparency is core to our company.”

Dave Chappelle will continue to work with Netflix after "The Closer" backlash.

Dave Chappelle will continue to work with Netflix after “The Closer” backlash.
(Mathieu Bitton/Netflix)

The statement also reminds recruiters that they can add: “this employee was the only person to access this specific information and admitted to sharing confidential information externally.”

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Although Netflix clearly had concerns about its ability to hire new talent in the wake of the Dave Chappelle controversy, the streaming platform announced in December that he will take part in a new 11-day stand-up comedy festival titled “Netflix Is A Joke: The Festival,” in Los Angeles featuring over 130 artists.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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