The opening segment of Thursday’s episode of Live With Kelly and Ryan ended with what could be easily interpreted as a thinly veiled response to recent allegations that co-host Ryan Seacrest assaulted a former E! stylist. After a little chat about this Sunday’s Oscars—which both Seacrest and Kelly Ripa will be attending—Ripa said [bold mine]:
“You are a privilege to work with and I adore you. I’m speaking on behalf of all of us here. I know what an easy, professional, great person you are, and I feel very very lucky to work with you each and every day.”
“You are happiness,” Seacrest tells Ripa before kissing her on the head.
“You’re happiness,” Ripa corrects him, before raising her voice to a higher register. “You’re happiness wrapped in chocolate, so there!”
This address-the-controversy-without-actually-addressing-the-controversy move is interesting on its own, but is particularly notable given a story published by People late Wednesday night entitled “Ryan Seacrest’s Colleagues Defend Him Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations.” In it, an anonymous colleague told the magazine [bold mine]:
“He is the hardest working guy I know. I think he’s so professional. The thing that I love about working with him is every day I’m challenged. He’s a great person to work for. I’ve never seen him raise his voice – sure, people get upset about certain things, but he’s always professional. I personally would never for 15 years work for someone that this person is alleging would do the things she’s saying. It’s just not something I can fathom.”
Based on the similarities between Ripa and the anonymous source’s language, it almost sounds like all of Seacrest’s current and former colleagues got the same talking points. Or maybe it’s just a coincidence! In any case, the staunch defense of Seacrest by both coworkers and E! itself (who found the assault claims baseless after an “investigation) is—after months of watching other versions of this story play out in the headlines—a surprise.
In related news, Jennifer Lawrence was asked about the allegations against Seacrest on Wednesday’s episode of The Howard Stern Show. “I can’t imagine him being sexual,” she said, before adding, “I think it is scary, you know. He has not been to trial for anything. I am not a judge. I am not a jury, you know. I don’t know… that is where this stuff gets tricky.”
The Oscars air this Sunday on ABC!!!