Whoopi Goldberg defends Academy not ejecting Will Smith after Chris Rock slap


Whoopi Goldberg on Thursday defended the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s decision to give Will Smith the option of leaving Sunday’s Oscars after he slapped Chris Rock on stage.

Speaking about the controversy on “The View” on Thursday, Goldberg, who serves on the Academy’s board of governors, said she understands why Smith was asked to leave the show rather than being told to exit the ceremony.

“I’m going to tell you why he got the option. Picture, well, OK, they come back from break, now if he’s in some sort of state and he’s struggling and they’re trying to get him out the door and it’s still on camera,” Goldberg said. “Listen, we work a live show every day and stuff happens and it comes out your mouth or you do something stupid and you’ve got to sit there and deal with it.

“I can’t because I’m not their spokesperson and everything they had to say they’ve said. But there are things that I do know. People said to me, ‘Well, you know, they were running over to greet him’ and someone else is saying, ‘Well, you know, everybody was checking to make sure he wasn’t having a manic moment,’ because that’s not what he’s known for, smacking people. So we’ll see what happens and that’s where I keep saying let us keep in mind that there’s one person responsible for this,” she added.

Will Smith Chris Rock slap
Whoopi Goldberg said people were checking to see if Will Smtih was having a “manic moment” after he slapped Chris Rock.
AFP via Getty Images

Goldberg’s remarks come one day after the Academy launched “disciplinary proceedings” against the “King Richard” star.

“The Board of Governors today initiated disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Smith for violations of the academy’s standards of conduct, including inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior and compromising the integrity of the academy,” a statement obtained by Fox News Digital said.

“Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, [but] we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.” 

Whoopi Goldberg
Whoopi Goldberg likened the Oscars telecast to “The View,” saying that things go wrong on live broadcasts.

Penalties from the Academy could include “suspension, expulsion or other sanctions permitted by the bylaws and standards of conduct.”

Many have focused on why Smith was allowed to remain seated in the front row at the Academy Awards after the incident. On Wednesday, the Academy said it attempted to remove the actor from the audience.

“Things unfolded in a way we could not have anticipated,” the Academy said. “While we would like to clarify that Mr. Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused, we also recognize we could have handled the situation differently.”

A representative for the Academy declined to give specifics on how it tried to removed Smith. After he struck Rock in response to a joke about wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, several stars, including Denzel Washington, Bradley Cooper and Tyler Perry, spoke to the 53-year-old Smith.

The Academy said Smith has the opportunity to defend himself in a written response before the board meets again April 18. The Academy earlier condemned Smith’s onstage assault of Rock, but it used stronger language Wednesday.

“Mr. Smith’s actions at the 94th Oscars were a deeply shocking, traumatic event to witness in-person and on television,” the academy said. “Mr. Rock, we apologize to you for what you experienced on our stage, and thank you for your resilience in that moment. We also apologize to our nominees, guests and viewers for what transpired during what should have been a celebratory event.”

Smith has since publicly apologized to Rock.

“Violence in all of its forms is poisonous and destructive,” Smith wrote in part on Instagram before publicly apologizing to Rock. “I was out of line and I was wrong.”

Will and Jada Pinkett Smith
The Academy claims Will Smith was asked to leave the Oscars but refused.
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

“I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”

Smith’s full statement: “My behavior at last night’s Academy Awards was unacceptable and inexcusable. Jokes at my expense are a part of the job, but a joke about Jada’s medical condition was too much for me to bear and I reacted emotionally.”

“I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.

“I would also like to apologize to the Academy, the producers of the show, all the attendees and everyone watching around the world. I would like to apologize to the Williams Family and my King Richard Family. I deeply regret that my behavior has stained what has been an otherwise gorgeous journey for all of us.

“I am a work in progress. Sincerely, Will.”


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