AceShowbiz - Sharon Osbourne has compared herself to "a lamb held out for slaughter" after she was "totally blindsided" on her U.S. show "The Talk" by stern questions about her Twitter defence of controversial U.K. newsman Piers Morgan.
Morgan quit his TV gig as co-host of "Good Morning Britain" on Tuesday, March 9 following public uproar over his dismissal of Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex's claims of suicidal thoughts in her revealing tell-all with Oprah Winfrey, but Sharon voiced her support for her old friend in a statement on Twitter.
"I am with you. I stand by you," she wrote. "People forget that you're paid for your opinion and that you're just speaking your truth."
Sharon was quizzed about her comments on daytime show "The Talk" the following day, insisting she didn't "agree with what he said," but was instead standing up for Morgan's "freedom of speech".
However, co-host Sheryl Underwood, who is black, took Sharon to task for supporting Morgan, who had also declared he didn't believe anything the Duchess had said, including accusing members of the royal family of racism.
Sharon subsequently apologized to anyone who felt offended by her remarks, making it clear she doesn't "condone racism, misogyny or bullying", adding via Twitter, "I will always support freedom of speech, but now I see how I unintentionally didn't make that clear distinction."
Now Sharon is holding CBS network bosses responsible for putting her "The Talk" co-hosts up to the task of grilling her on air over the Morgan controversy.
"I blame the network for it," she told Variety. "I was blindsided, totally blindsided by the whole situation. In my 11 years [on 'The Talk'], this was the first time I was not involved with the planning of the segment."
Sharon admitted a producer had asked her shortly before Wednesday's showtime if she could be questioned about Morgan during the taping, but she had no idea they had prepared a full script for Underwood to stick to.
"I get on there, I say my piece and Sheryl turns around straight-faced, looks at me and is reading from a card with questions," she explained.
"I was just so hurt, caught off guard and stunned by what I was being asked and not prepared. I was honestly in shock. I felt like I was in front of a firing squad. I felt like a lamb held out for slaughter... They had me there for 20 minutes."
Sharon ended up having to beg producers to "please change subjects" during a commercial break, and she is convinced the TV clash was all concocted by CBS chiefs.
"I'm a big girl. I'm a professional," she said. "However CBS blindsided me. I don't know why they did it to me. The showrunners told me it came from executives to do this to me."
A representative for CBS has declined to respond to Sharon's Variety comments, but on Friday, officials announced plans to conduct an "internal review" of the incident.