Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos has reiterated his defense of free speech and artistic freedom, continuing his backing of comedians Ricky Gervais and Dave Chappelle.

English comedian Ricky Gervais was attacked online last week after making a series of jokes at the expense of transgender people in his new Netflix special, Ricky Gervais: SuperNature.

Dave Chappelle also faced backlash over transgender jokes made during his Netflix special, The Closer. Earlier this month, Chappelle was physically attacked while performing onstage.

"I think it's very important to the American culture generally to have free expression," Sarandos said on Saturday.


Sarandos noted that comedians need the ability to figure out what is acceptable by "crossing the line every once in a while."

"We're programming for a lot of diverse people who have different opinions and different tastes and different styles, and yet we're not making everything for everybody," Sarandos added. "We want something for everybody, but everything's not going to be for everybody."

Netflix issued a corporate memo in May telling its employees it will not "censor specific artists or voices" even if employees consider the content to be "harmful" and "if you'd find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you."

In the memo, Netflix noted that viewers' differing tastes present both an opportunity and a challenge.

"We support the artistic expression of the creators we choose to work with," Netflix said. "We let viewers decide what's appropriate for them, versus having Netflix censor specific artists or voices."

Tesla CEO Elon Musk was among those who praised Netflix for taking a stand for free speech.

Businessman and political commentator Vivek Ramaswamy also called the move representative of companies being forced to return to "excellence over politics."


Sarandos said he was surprised by the support, especially from conservatives.

"It used to be a very liberal issue, so it's an interesting time that we live in," Sarandos said. "I always said if we censor in the U.S., how are we going to defend our content in the Middle East?"