Only a year ago, you'd have been hard-pressed to find a TV host more loved than Ellen DeGeneres.
But 2020 has seen the talk show queen take a spectacular fall from grace, with multiple allegations of workplace misconduct on her eponymous talk show, including sexual harassment claims against executives and allegations of DeGeneres' own treatment of staff members, security guards and her celebrity guests.
After a two-month hiatus, DeGeneres returned to screens yesterday morning with an apology that's been dubbed "a joke", despite claims the host is more "engaged than ever" with her employees.
Now, Krystie Lee Ynadoli, the Buzzfeed journalist who first broke the story on the show's misconduct, has revealed DeGeneres' staffers were among those who didn't buy her comeback monologue.
"Current and former employees that I spoke to found Ellen's monologue to be a bit disingenuous, a bit tone-deaf, given the severity of their experiences," she told B105's Stav, Abby and Matt.
"I don't know that there would have been a perfect response from Ellen after these kinds of reports of pretty serious allegations, and then a third party internal investigation at Warner Brothers and then these employees being fired, so obviously it was all very serious.
"And people who I spoke to weren't too happy about the jokes and the tone of it all and they also felt that Ellen was kind of deflecting when it came to her 'be kind' message."
While Ynadoli's sources "didn't want to see the show cancelled", she said they were hoping her reporting would lead to a "change and shift at that workplace".
"The people I spoke to just weren't thrilled (by) the tone of the monologue, but they're hopeful that there will be a shift. It's just kind of hard to see right now," she said.
"You can't change a culture of nearly two decades over the course of two months during a summer hiatus, so people are still just curious to see how that will unfold."
Ynadoli, who "grew up watching Ellen" and said she was "definitely a fan", spoke to 75 current and former employees of the show after being contacted by one of DeGeneres' current staff earlier this year.
There've been reports DeGeneres was aware of the misconduct in her workplace for years – which resulted in one executive producer and two co-executive producers being fired.
"I heard from current and former employees, you know, things like there's no way Ellen couldn't have known about such rampant, alleged toxicity and a range of sexual misconduct and behaviour," Ynadoli said, after being asked if she believed DeGeneres knew what was going on behind the scene.
"And then I've also heard from people that executive producers kind of kept Ellen insulated from knowing the details and the nitty gritty of all these things and she was very far removed from the day-to-day with staffers.
"Although, the people who were fired and who were accused of this behaviour were people that Ellen was very close to. These weren't, you know, low-level employees. These were people that Ellen was spending her time with when she was at the show."