Kelly Ripa opened Live this morning by quipping “our long national nightmare is over” before thanking fans for “welcoming me back to the show.”
After standing quietly through an extended audience ovation, Ripa — dressed in red — stood in front of a camera alone to address the scandal that plagued the show and kept her away from the company that’s employed her for 26 years.
“I earned the right [for a break away from work],” said Ripa, who hadn’t been at Live since Tuesday when she was “blindsided” by the news of Michael Strahan’s departure to Good Morning America. “I know half of you called in sick to be here so we get each other.”
“I gained perspective,” Ripa continued. “I always speak from my heart. I didn’t want to come out here and say something I will regret… This started a much greater conversation about communication and consideration and most importantly respect in the worksplace.”
Ripa’s message — read from a Teleprompter — featured a few jokes but it did appear as if she strayed from what was written by cracking, “I’m fairly certain that there are trained professional snipers with tranquilizer darts in case I drift too far off message.”
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“Apologies have been made,” she said. “The best thing to come out of all of this is that our parent company has assured me that Live is a priority.”
Ripa wrapped her short message by saying, “My dad, who was a bus driver for 30 years, thinks we are all crazy. I think he’s right.”
After joining her co-host at the desk, Strahan thanked Ripa again for the opportunity to work with her. “You love this show, you love the fans, you love the staff. I love you,” he said. “This is has been tranforming for me, You are the queen of morning TV… I’m happy you are here.”
“I don’t know where else to be,” she replied.
Watch the video and read Ripa’s full opening speech below: