Washington- A defiant, tearful Kathy Griffin said Friday that she regretted making a photo of herself holding a mask that looked like President Trump’s bloody severed head, but she wasn’t going to stop criticizing the president or fighting for others to do so.
The comments were the fast-talking comedian’s first beyond a video-recorded apology on social media.
The image outraged Trump, his family and many, many others last week. She said five employers had canceled scheduled shows since then, and she’d been fired by CNN.
“A sitting president of the United States and his grown children and the first lady are personally trying to ruin my life forever,” she said. “You guys know him, he’s not going to stop.
She said the online attacks on her in the last few days — including death threats — were a distraction mobilized by a president embattled by scandal. And she sought to frame it as the kind of “bullying” she’d received from older white men her entire career.
“I’m not good at being appropriate,” she said. “I’m only good at doing comedy one way. It’s in your face. I’m going to make fun of the president. And I’m going to do it more now.”
Although she reiterated her apology, she told reporters a person shouldn’t have to die for a joke in the United States. “The threats that I am getting are … detailed and they are specific. And today it’s me, but tomorrow it might be you.”
Still, she cried as she told the gathered reporters: “I don’t think I’ll have a career after this. I’m going to be honest, he broke me.”
In a response to Griffin’s statements, the Republican National Committee said Trump and his family “have every right” to condemn her actions.
“Kathy Griffin’s career was over long before she attempted to make a disgusting joke about decapitating the President,” the RNC statement said. “Playing the victim and blaming others for her hateful actions today, and claiming to be (bullied) is a bridge too far.”
On Friday, the California Republican Party began soliciting donations using an image of Griffin posing with the mask of Donald Trump’s head, the Associated Press reported. It urged donors to help fight “the left’s blatant disrespect.”
Chelsea Clinton and Griffin’s friend, CNN host Anderson Cooper, were among those with sharp criticisms of the gruesome photo, but reactions from President Trump, first lady Melania Trump and Donald Trump Jr. were especially incensed.
President Trump tweeted that Griffin should be “ashamed of herself,” and that his 11-year-old son Barron was “having a hard time with this.”
“Sick!” he added.
Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., wrote on Twitter that Griffin’s photo was “disgusting but not surprising.”
“This is the left today,” he wrote. “They consider this acceptable. Imagine a conservative did this to Obama as POTUS?”
He also called out CNN in subsequent tweets, urging the network to sever ties with the veteran comedian and decade-long co-host of a New Year’s Eve program with Anderson Cooper.
CNN later announced its decision to part ways with Griffin.
Perhaps the harshest and most emotional denouncement came in a rare statement from the first lady:
“As a mother, a wife, and a human being, that photo is very disturbing. When you consider some of the atrocities happening in the world today, a photo opportunity like this is simply wrong and makes you wonder about the mental health of the person who did it.”
Outside the first family, Griffin’s stunt garnered near universal condemnation from the right and left.
While speaking with Rosie O’Donnell on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Griffin said she was unpopular in grade school and called “dog” “every single day.”
“I was so ugly that the other kids would just look at me and bark,” Griffin said. She also struggled with bulimia and body image.
The Washington Post