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Netflix worker fired for leaking finance details of controversial Chappelle show

Comedian criticized for transphobic comments in special for streaming giant, as well as less widely discussed apparent antisemitic joke about world-conquering ‘Space Jews’

Dave Chappelle arrives at Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the 22nd Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in Washington, October 27, 2019. (Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP, File)
Dave Chappelle arrives at Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the 22nd Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in Washington, October 27, 2019. (Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP, File)

Netflix said on Friday that it had fired an employee for disclosing confidential financial information about what it paid for Dave Chappelle’s controversial comedy special “The Closer,” which some have condemned as being transphobic and antisemitic.

The employee, who wasn’t named, shared “confidential, commercially sensitive information outside the company,” a Netflix statement said.

“We understand this employee may have been motivated by disappointment and hurt with Netflix, but maintaining a culture of trust and transparency is core to our company,” the statement said.

The statement said the information was referenced in a Bloomberg news article, which reported that Netflix spent $24.1 million on “The Closer,” which first aired last week.

“The Closer,” first aired on October 1 and had gained at least 10 million views. However, Chapelle’s remarks about the transgender community raised protests within Netflix and from LGBTQ activists.

The media watchdog group GLAAD said that “anti-LGBTQ content” violates Netflix’s policy to reject programs that incite hate or violence.

However, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos told managers in an internal memo that the show doesn’t cross “the line on hate” and will remain on the streaming service.

Several Netflix employees, including a software engineer who identifies as transgender, had criticized the special. Transgender employees and their co-workers are being urged to stage a walkout next Wednesday in protest.

Less widely-discussed amid the outrage was Chapelle’s joke in which he pretended Jews were aliens and used the antisemitic canard of world domination. The gag was based on what Chapelle said was an idea for a movie, but could be seen as an analogy of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that didn’t distinguish between Jews and Israelis.

“In my movie idea, we find out that these aliens are originally from earth — that they’re from an ancient civilization that achieved interstellar travel and left the earth thousands of years ago,” Chapelle said during the special.

“Some other planet they go to, and things go terrible for them on the other planet, so they come back to earth, [and] decide that they want to claim the earth for their very own. It’s a pretty good plotline, huh? I call it ‘Space Jews,'” he concluded.

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