Ellen DeGeneres: Judging American Idol Was “One of the Worst Decisions I’ve Made”

Ellen Degeneres on American Idol
Ellen DeGeneres told Howard Stern that she hated her year as a judge on American Idol  Fox

Judging American Idol might seem like a dream job, but for Ellen DeGeneres, it was anything but. During a chat with Howard Stern for his SiriusXM radio show on Tuesday, Sept. 8, the comedienne admitted she “hated” her year on the Fox singing competition.

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“That’s one of the worst decisions I’ve made,” DeGeneres, 57, told Stern, 61, of joining Idol for its ninth season in 2010. (The Emmy winner was one of four judges that year, along with Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Kara DioGuardi.)

“You know what it is?” Stern replied. “And I found this too, when I started doing America’s Got Talent. You think it’s going to be easy to tell someone honestly what you think.”

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Turns out, it’s not — especially when what you think isn’t complimentary. “When you’re looking at them in the face — and some of these people have stories that are really sad, or they’ve been struggling a long time — you do feel like, ‘Jesus Christ, I don’t know that I feel comfortable telling this person,'” the shock jock explained. “That’s the hard part.”

Asked why she’d signed on in the first place, DeGeneres said she thought she could be a voice for the people, the fans.

Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi, Ryan Seacrest, Ellen DeGeneres and Simon Cowell on American Idol
Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi, Ryan Seacrest, Ellen DeGeneres and Simon Cowell on American Idol Michael Becker/Fox

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“As a fan of the shows, it doesn’t matter that I sing or that I know anything about pitch or anything,” she told Stern and his longtime co-host Robin Quivers. “I’m like everybody else at home. It’s American Idol. And you’re watching and you’re a fan. So I thought, I’m gonna represent those people at home that have opinions. But then I just thought, like Howard says, I can’t break this person’s heart. I mean, let somebody else do that.”

DeGeneres isn’t the only former Idol judge to speak out against the show. Back in May, Mariah Carey told DJs Kyle and Jackie O that she didn’t ever want to be involved with the competition again.

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“That was the worst experience of my life,” she said at the time. “I’m not going to get into what it was, but let’s just say I don’t think they had any intentions for us to have a good experience doing that show.”

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