Amid the ongoing controversies surrounding Dave Chappelle’s new Netflix comedy special The Closer, the streaming giant announced today that it has fired an employee for allegedly leaking metrics information to the press. In a statement provided to Vulture, a Netflix representative confirmed that the employee, who apparently revealed the cost of the special and Chappelle’s salary to Bloomberg, was let go due to “sharing confidential, commercially sensitive information” outside of the company. (Netflix reportedly paid $24.1 million for The Closer, compared to, say, the $3.9 million spent on Bo Burnham’s Inside.) “We understand this employee may have been motivated by disappointment and hurt with Netflix,” the statement read, “but maintaining a culture of trust and transparency is core to our company.”
However, in a separate interview given to The Verge, the former employee — who remained anonymous due to fear of online harassment, but was identified by the outlet as Black, pregnant, and a leader of Netflix’s trans employee resource group — disputed the merits of the dismissal. “All these white people are going around talking to the press and speaking publicly on Twitter and the only person who gets fired is the Black person who was quiet the entire time,” the employee said. “That’s absurd, and just further shows that Black trans people are the ones being targeted in this conversation.”
Since The Closer’s premiere on October 5, Chappelle has received widespread criticism — often from his fans — for the transphobic comments he makes in the special. This criticism has also boiled over to internal unrest within Netflix, with co-CEO Ted Sarandos being forced to defend The Closer in two memos to staffers after transgender employees threatened to stage a walkout. “I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries,” he wrote on October 11. “Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean-spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.” Sarandos proceeded to double down on his stance in an October 13 corporate memo, adding that “as a leadership team, we do not believe that The Closer is intended to incite hatred or violence against anyone.” Chappelle has yet to comment on anything related to the special.